July 17, 2013

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center analyzed nearly 5 million tweets in the first 26 hours after the George Zimmerman verdict. Pew found that 39 percent of the tweets shared news sans opinion. Of the 38 percent of tweets that reflected opinions, 31 percent expressed opposition or anger and 7 percent supported the verdict.

Pew’s Mark Jurkowitz and Nancy Vogt explain:

The sentiments decrying the verdict were often emotional and frequently evoked a racial subtext, according to an analysis of the Twitter response to the trial outcome from 10 p.m. July 13 to midnight on July 14. Among that group, the largest component (15% of the Twitter reaction ) was criticism of the criminal justice system, including charges that it is biased against African Americans. Another 14% accused Zimmerman of wrong-doing, such as deliberately profiling Martin. And 2% spoke of Trayvon Martin as an innocent victim.

The next highest level of attention (11%) was devoted to the media’s role in the case—an issue highlighted by Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara’s public condemnation of the press after the verdict. The level of Twitter engagement in the case spiked dramatically after the verdict. The nearly 5 million tweets (4.9 million) in the first 26 hours after the verdict virtually equaled the total volume of tweets (5.1 million) about the case posted during the entirety of the 33-day trial. By way of comparison, there were 4.7 million tweets alone on July 14 in contrast with an average of about 151,000 tweets each day during the trial.

Pew analyzed the tweets using computer coding software.

Related: Can stories like the Zimmerman trial point to a better journalism? | Zimmerman attorney says he plans to move quickly in lawsuit against NBC

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