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Social Media Pre-Chilcot – the calm before the storm?

Neil Erskine photo
Neil ErskineSheffield
Social Media Pre-Chilcot – the calm before the storm?
Examining social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook before the report into the Iraq Inquiry is released sees Tony Blair criticised as a war criminal, rampant conspiracy theories, and a high frequency of tweets related to the recent Labour coup on Jeremy Corbyn - Wasim Ahmed

Using Visibrain, a very powerful online media monitoring platform our team set out to investigate what some of the most frequently occurring hashtags, expressions, URLs, and actors are prior to the release of the report. We then used NodeXL to cluster Twitter users into different groups, and ascertain the most frequently used co-words.

First, let us take a look at some of the analysis performed using Visibrain:

The figure below displays the most frequently used hashtags in previous 30 days before the release of the report:

The three most frequently used hashtags consist of #chilcot (n=46,279), #chilcotreport (20,892), and at number three #corbyn (n=8,272). Also of note here are hashtags such as #labourcoup (n=7,127), and #keepcorbyn (n=5,519). These hashtags tie into some of the conspiracy theories suggesting that the coup against Jeremy Corbyn was planned to stop him from calling for Blair to be prosecuted after the release of the report.

We then took a look at some of the most frequently occurring expressions within tweets over the previous 30 days:

The most interesting expressions consist of mentions of ‘war crimes’ (n=6,382), and ‘blairite coup’ (n=5,429). Further reinforcing the previous finding that users are suggesting the coup on Jeremy Corbyn is related to the release of the Chilcot report.

In regards to some of the most mentioned actors prior to the release of the report, these consist of:

It is not surprising to see the official Twitter account of Tony Blair rank so highly for mentions. The reasons for the likes of Wiki Leaks, George Galloway, and Frankie Boyle to feature so highly is due to recent tweets which mention the Chilcot report.

Now let us take a look at some of the analytics produced by NodeXL, and the Connected Action Team. Below is a network graph of the Chilcot report created on the 1st of July:

The network graph is made up of several groups of Twitter users based on tweet content. At the top left of each group you can see a list of most frequently occurring keywords per group. By examining the most frequently occurring keywords and web URLs in each group it is possible to ascertain what each group is talking about.

In group one, labelled G1 the most frequently occurring words consist of:

· chilcot (n=3436)

· corbyn (n=992)

· iraq (n=970)

· report (n=900)

· war (n=889)

· blair (n=728)

The most frequently occurring hashtags consist of:

· chilcot (n=1673)

· corbyn (n=278)

· corbyn4all (n=135)

· iraqtruthandjustice (n=133)

· labourcoup

The most frequently shared URL in this group consist of an article by the independent suggesting Tony Blair is set to be savaged by the Iraq Inquiry verdict. What can be seen here, as seen with the analysis using Visibrain is discussions of the labour coup in the lead up to the release of the Chilcot report. The complete network analysis and report on Chilcot produced by Connected Action can be found here.

Using NodeXL we then looked into the public Facebook walls of Tony Blair. We found that the top word pairs for recent comments on Tony Blair’s public Facebook page consisted of:

· tony,blair (n=359)

· remain,eu (n=200)

· war,crimes (n=153)

This is similar to the previous finding where Twitter users have begun to associate words such as ‘war criminal’, and ‘war crimes’ to Tony Blair. It will be interesting to see how this all changes and/or amplifies after the release of the Chilcot report.

Now looking at some of the geographical analysis using Visibrain it is possible to see what geographical areas and cities Twitter users are predominantly tweeting from:

At number one with a huge margin of 31.1% of tweets are those from the city of London. A possible explanation for this is that the majority of politicians and journalists are based in London and they are most engaged with the Chilcot report. Interestingly at number two is the city of Glasgow where 971 users have sent a total of 3,028 (including retweets).

This is the first part of a three part instalment, and each article will sign off with a time series graph of tweets related to the Chilcot report.

Currently the Chilcot report sees a total of 222,378 tweets by 75,503 users. We expect this to increase significantly shortly after the release of the report. Check back here for part two of this three part instalment.

Wasim Ahmed, @was3210 , Social Media Researcher & Consultant | PhD Candidate

##Blair, ##Corbyn, ##chilcot, ##Labour, ##Iraq, ##lessons, ##labourcoup