The Oscar Pistorius hearing by the social media numbers

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

The case surrounding paralympic icon Oscar Pistorius, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been getting massive social media attention from day attention from day one.

In the early hours of the day on which the actual shooting took place, Twitter took up the role of news breaker with each new piece of information retweeted and dissected by a hungry public. Then when the presiding magistrate ordered that there be no cameras present during the ensuing bail hearing, it became a crucial means of getting the latest facts coming out of the courtroom.

We therefore know intuitively that the case has been a social media phenomenon. We can however also put a number on how much of a phenomenon it’s been. Well a few numbers actually. Acceleration Media, authorised Salesforce Radian6 Reseller has given Memeburn an exclusive breakdown of some of the numbers surrounding the Pistorius case.

Raw numbers

According to Acceleration, there were 1 306 313 online posts about the incident between 14 and 20 February 2013, averaging out to 186 616 posts per day, 7776 posts per hour and 130 posts per minute. Each day, of course, came with its own hot conversation topics.

Posts about Oscar Pistorius

1. 14 Feb: Reaction to the initial reports of the incident 229 020 posts
Social media users were shocked and filled with disbelief after the initial reports from the media. Some social media users formed opinions based on the information they had and some were willing to wait until the details of the incident were revealed. Towards the end of the day, more and more online posts were of humorous nature.

2. 15 Feb: Day one of bail hearing, 82 231 posts
Social media users reacted to Pistorius being charged with premeditated murder by posting humorous content as the majority were convinced he had murdered his girlfriend. Pistorius’ allegedly violent past also came under the spotlight.

3. 19 Feb: Day two of bail hearing, 123 116 posts
As more and more details about the incident were revealed in court (Oscar’s affidavit), social media users opinions were divided about his version of the story.

4. 20 Feb: Day three of bail hearing, 94 789 posts
Attention shifted to the investigating officer (Hilton Botha) as he testified in court. Majority of posts retweets of mentions by the various journalists covering the story from the court-house.

Global interest

Part of the reason for the story has attracted so much attention on social media is because of Pistorius’ massive global profile. This is reflected in the fact that a large number of the social traffic has come from the US. It should be noted however that it’s not always easy to track which countries people on Twitter come from.

Number of posts by country:

Country Posts
USA 654 657
South Africa 196 210
UK 142 482
Canada 42 431
Netherlands 33 923
Greece 19 173
Morocco 16 855
France 15 222
Australia 13 778
Spain 12 687

Of all the social platforms under analysis, Twitter has played host to the bast majority of the conversation. Acceleration reckons that 84.4% of the conversation around the case has occurred on Twitter, with Facebook and mainstream news outlets battling it out for second place.

Oscar Pistorius social media discussions


This section looks at those who were mentioned, retweeted and the hashtags that were used when discussing the subject. Unsurprisingly, the lists of most mentioned and retweeted user names contain a lot of similarities. That’s largely down to the fact that people have had to rely on reporters tweeting live from the court room for information as live camera feeds were banned from proceedings.

Top 10 most mentioned usernames:

Username Mentions
@encanews 16 418
@oscarpistorius 6 133
@barrybateman 4 597
@bbcandrewh 2 087
@youranonnews 1 644
@karynmaughan 1 412
@reevasteenkamp 1 272
@jacanews 1 162
@ewnreporter 1 031
@beeld_nuus 846

It might initially seem like an anomaly that broadcast news group eNCA is so high up given that video recording has been banned in the courtroom. Its reporter Karyn Maughan has however gained significant Twitter following during the hearing and all of her tweets from in and around the court include the @eNCAnews handle.

Top 10 Most retweeted usernames:

Username Mentions
@barrybateman 6 156
@karynmaughan 3 495
@ewnreporter 3 239
@huisgenoot 421
@jacanews 421
@city_press 402
@somizi 399
@mandywiener 382
@bbcandrewh 382
@neilinbetween_ 371

It’s hardly surprising that Barry Bateman tops this list. His coverage of the case has gained him over 100 000 followers since it began. What is interesting however is the presence of Huis Genoot, an Afrikaans-language family and gossip magazine among the more serious news organisations.

Top 20 most used hashtags:

Hashtag Mentions
#oscarpistorius 192 798
#reeva 6 695
#pistorius 6 182
#reevasteenkamp 4 038
#ripreeva 2 687
#oscar 2 128
#sabcnews 1 975
#news 1 587
#ssn 786
#reevastaankamp 545
#oscarpistorious 540
#imblockedbycollymorebecause 498
#nike 488
#steenkamp 476
#oscaraffidavit 450
#sports 420
#justiceforreeva 411
#teamfollowback 362
#southafrica 309
#world 287

There aren’t really any surprises here, although some of the tweets appear to have been hijacked by the #teamfollowback hashtag.

Conversation Cloud
This conversation cloud represents the 50 most mentioned words surrounding the case. The bigger the word the more mentions it received.

Oscar Pistorius conversation cloud



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