Clemson Analyzes Plane Crash Impact on Social Media - WSPA.com

Clemson Analyzes Plane Crash Impact on Social Media

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CLEMSON, S.C. -

As investigators sort through the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed into a Ukrainian field, people around the world are turning to social media for answers.

At Clemson University's Social Media Listening Center, students and faculty are breaking down trends to look for a deeper meaning in the web chatter.

An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister posted on his Facebook page Wednesday that the plane was shot down by a missile. Social Media Listening Center Assistant Director Brandon Boatwright said that says a lot about the kind of role social media is now playing in communicating major announcements.

“The speed at which social media can pick up these news stories is really changing the game in terms of how crises are reported and how crises develop online," said Boatwright.

Boatwright is using the center to analyze data from Twitter, Facebook, mainstream news sources and blog posts.

“Twitter is the predominant source we always see, especially when crises arise because that's how news travels fastest," he said.

There have already been more than 300,000 tweets as people try to sort fact from fiction.

“It's a lot of blame-shifting going back and forth," said Boatwright.

People may not agree on who's to blame, but one thing almost all of them agree on: This is bad news.

“Of the hundreds of thousands of the posts, 96 percent of them have been coded as negative sentiment," said Boatwright.

Clemson's tools can also pinpoint where most of the discussion is coming from.

“Our geo-location kind of tells us where in the world people are talking about crises at any given time. We see a lot of heated up regions between Russia and Ukraine. And a lot of the conversations are happening in the U.S. because of the implications that it has here,” said Boatwright.

When a crisis like this happens, Boatwright said it's typical for there to be a huge spike in conversation and then over time it will dip. But he predicts discussion about this crash will be going strong for a long time before it levels off.

Related:

Official: Malaysian Plane Shot Down Over Ukraine

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Jenna Troum
Jenna is a general assignment reporter covering Greenville, Pickens and Laurens Counties.
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