Clemson Social Media Listening Center monitors online chatter before, during Democratic debate


CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA)- Clemson University’s Social Media Listening Center tracks social media conversations in real time. Tuesday night, students tracked the reaction to the Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C. and the online chatter leading up to it.

Their data showed many people posting on social media had negative reactions to the debate. A report compiled by students in the Listening Center of social media posts during the last hour of the debate showed the majority of the sentiment expressed around all the candidates on stage was negative. People also complained on Twitter about the moderators and the price of the tickets at the event, which cost between $1,750 and $3,200.

For hours before the debate began, the center’s data showed Sen. Bernie Sanders dominating the online conversation.

“He has over a 50 percent share of voice in the last 24 hours,” said Will Henderson, who is the associate director of the Social Media Listening Center.

That means more than half of online talk about the Democratic candidates centered on him.

“I think he is the candidate who gets the most meme attention, and meme culture is extremely prominent on social media,” said Clemson student Kenedey Ward, who is taking a social media analytics class.

Sanders has said intelligence officials briefed his campaign on Russian interference to help him in the election. 7 News asked Henderson if there is a way to differentiate between real people and “troll” accounts.

“There are ways,” Henderson said. “We’re not actively doing that here right now.”

Students in Clemson’s social media analytics class have been learning about what makes some posts go viral, while others don’t make it far. The big driver behind popular posts? Ward said it’s emotion.

“That’s why even things you think are sad…so maybe something super tragic happened. It’s evoking a whole lot of emotion,” she said.

Tuesday, Ward and others got to apply what they learned as millions of posts poured in from Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and most of all, Twitter.

“We are really looking at public opinion when it comes to the statements each candidate gives and regarding who wins a debate or who has the most share of voice and who trends,” Henderson said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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