On June 29th 2017, the verdict was delivered in the Jobstown Trial: Not Guilty.
Much has been written about the case, and a key element has been the role of social media.
On Twitter, over the past year, over 89,000 tweets have been published featuring the official campaign hashtag: #JobstownNotGuilty.
At Olytico, we have analysed this data in an effort to answer some key questions:
Was this a lot of tweets from a very small number of accounts?
There were over 7,700 unique accounts that used the #JobstownNotGuilty hashtag in the last year – giving an average of 11 tweets per account.
What were the key dates?
Across the last 12 months, there were four days on which #JobstownNotGuilty tweets spiked significantly: the first two relate to the trial of a 17 year old and the second two relate to the start and end of the trial of six others.
What did people talk about?
This word cloud represents the Top 100 words used in the 89,000 tweets analysed.
What did people share? What were the most popular links in tweets?
The two most shared links were both videos:
A documentary on Facebook (Jobstown – A Protest on Trial)
A tweet containing footage from the Garda Helicopter:
Garda helicopter video from the Jobstown protest pic.twitter.com/M8pX2uedll
— jonathan (@Earl1995Lfc) May 3, 2017
Who were the most influential accounts?
The answer depends on how you define influence. For the purpose of this analysis, Olytico has looked at two factors: volume of tweets sent, and the follower number of the accounts.
Volume of tweets sent:
Two accounts sent more than 1,000 #JobstownNotGuilty tweets during the time period: AndreaMurray67 (1,789) and IzzyKamikaze (1,145).
While these were the most active accounts in terms of tweets sent, they were not alone – over 160 accounts sent more than 100 tweets each.
A number of accounts combined high follower numbers with high frequency tweeting to generate the highest levels of impressions:
Paul Murphy TD: 828 tweets sent to 14,400 followers, generating potential impression of 14.4 million.
Joe Higgins: 170 tweets sent to 20,700 followers, generating potential impressions of 3.5 million.
Is their any other measure of influence? Celebrities or the media?
89 of the accounts who used the #JobstownNotGuilty hashtag were verified (you can check out Twitter’s definition of a verified account here).
— The Hard Shoulder (@TheHardShoulder) June 29, 2017
— Paddy Holohan (@PaddyHolohanMMA) March 29, 2017
#JobstownNotGuilty it's official. Now piss off Labour. You've dissapointed Connolly and Larkin. Sort yere shit out
— The Blindboy Podcast (@Rubberbandits) June 29, 2017
and International political figures
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) April 14, 2017
What does this mean for social media use in future trials?
As Colm Kenna reported in the Irish Times, the judge regularly warned the jury not to be reading about the case in newspapers or online. Traditional media have covered court cases for centuries. But there have always been gate keepers – editors, journalist, publishers who ultimately decided what was covered and which voices were heard. Social media removes these barriers, as was evidenced with the #JobstownNotGuilty campaign. While our analysis focused on Twitter, the conversations and content featured on Facebook, YouTube and countless other social media platforms. These networks aren’t replacing traditional media – but they’re giving campaigners alternative options to have their voices heard.
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