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It’s been a stand out week in the murder trial of Olympian Oscar Pistorius — but you didn’t have to be in a court room in South Africa to know that. The proceedings in the North Gauteng high court have been shared around the world through live streams, news articles, word of mouth and not least, Twitter. So just how much is the online space wrapped up in the case?
As Pistorius takes to the stand again today, new data from online monitoring and insights company BrandsEye provides a glimpse into the spikes in conversation since the accused began testifying. It shows that the volume of online conversation rose dramatically since Pistorius was called as a witness on Monday 7 April (trial day 17), reaching a peak on Wednesday 9 April when the conversation turned to his version of what happened in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
The day, which saw Pistorius being cross-examined by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, also clocked up the second highest volume of online mentions related to the trial to date — but first place is still firmly held by the day the trial began back in March.
BrandsEye’s data also confirms that this is very much a Twitter story — the social network is by far the most popular platform for conversation around the trial, with between 85.8 and 88.2% of all posts around the topic originating on Twitter this week.
It seems the platform has remained the avenue of choice for journalists and curious audiences since the trial began — previous analytics showed that some 87.2% of the conversation before and during the first week of the trial originated from Twitter.
In line with Twitter’s tendency to support
lurking passive news gathering, the volume of engagement around the trial posts is far less than the number of posts themselves. For example, on the busiest day (Wednesday 9 April), there were 163 077 mentions online about the trial — but just 69 121 engagements with the conversation.
Since Pistorius began testifying, each person who has posted about the trial has averaged less than three posts — suggesting that the streams of tweets issuing forth from journalists in the courtroom is being mitigated by more passive audiences, who don’t always retweet or share thoughts about the trial as actively themselves.
Here are some of the main insights into the online conversation:
Image: Barry Bateman.