How #MerciArsène replaced #WengerOut, and even exceeded #ThankYouSirAlex

WengerOut blog Arsene Wenger leaves Arsenal

One of the longest-serving coaches in the history English football announced he’d step down after 22 years of service on Friday. Over the past few years, Arsène Wenger had been under siege on social media, as fans turned the hashtag #WengerOut into a meme, which began to pop up at political protests and music concerts. But after this weekend’s announcement, vitriol turned into gratitude on Twitter, as the hashtag #MerciArsène eclipsed #WengerOut and even exceeded the goodbye hashtag for Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson. Our resident Gooner and researcher Sameer Shah investigates the fanbases’ dramatic shift in emotions.   In summary: Confidence in Wenger had fallen to an all-time low this season Three consecutive defeats for Arsenal in late February and early March...

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New on Pulsar: TRENDS is here!


We’ve just launched our latest product: Pulsar TRENDS. This tool lets users map real-time and historical trends instantly with access to 12 years worth of public data, from the very first Tweet back in March 2006 to today.   Just like search engines opened up the web and made it explorable, we designed Pulsar TRENDS to be the easiest and fastest way to explore the world of social media.   We’ve been working for years with thousands of planners, analysts and researchers to help them find the story in the data. One of the key things we realised was missing from the market is a tool that supports quick iteration, which is essential when using data for creative thinking.  ...

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Why memes matter: our best shot to talk about the world in the post-truth era

Disloyal man walking with his girlfriend and looking amazed at another seductive girl

Source: Dennis Yang on Facebook   We have entered a post-truth, post-authenticity era, in which dichotomies like true/false or real/fake no longer serve us very well, especially on social media platforms. In this excerpt from the Medium essay Post Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture, Pulsar Research Director Jess Owens (@hautepop) explains how memes have emerged as a new way to explore and distribute nuanced, complex truths. “Generations” are a bullshit marketing concept, right? Except all of us looking at the remarkable teenagers of Parkland High School and their astonishing media-campaigning ways are also aware that damn, something’s different about kids today. For the last two or three years I’ve been doing a bit of work for a tech...

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Twitter Passion Report: How the Hard Rock Cafe could take some music lessons from Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn with grime music star JME

What has the Labour Party got in common with Tanqueray? From #Grime4Corbyn to Gin and Juice, their messages are creating the right notes with music fans.   We’ve been running a series based on our work with Twitter, uncovering a set of passion communities on the platform using analysis of 800,000 randomly selected users.   The research found that those who identified with these passions do not make up monolithic audiences, but gather into a series of sub-communities, each with a very specific cultural footprint clustered around geographic, ethnic or interest affinities. This week, we’re taking a closer look at the community whose main passion is identified as music. [Zoom in to take a close look: Here’s a visual representation of...

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Art, politics and data meet as Pulsar data stars in a new Design Museum exhibition

The Hope To Nope Exhibition at the London Design Museum with data portraits from Pulsar platform

The ecosystem of the social web is heavily woven with images and, as a new exhibition at the Design Museum in London’s Kensington created in partnership with Pulsar proves, these images are now becoming more important than ever in politics.   Movements can change almost overnight thanks to a single photograph, people are expressing their personal politics through memes rather than manifestos, and imagery also heavily contributes to how we perceive today’s political class.   To that end, Pulsar data is currently being displayed in the Design Museum exhibition Hope to Nope. And as it shows, it’s never been a more divisive time to be in the public eye; as imagery and data merge to open up a new way of examining our...

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The great Cambridge Analytica/Facebook roundup

Facebook is on the downturn after the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal

This week may well turn out to be a defining, watershed moment for Facebook and for the social media industry as a whole. As you might have heard, these past few days have seen Facebook get in very hot water because of how an outfit called Cambridge Analytica collected and used its data. Most of the information that is coming out is not news among people who study social media, but circumstances are creating a perfect storm. Since the story is still developing, and the number of takes is growing by the minute, we decided to put together a roundup of some interesting, often opposing perspectives and viewpoints, which we hope will help you make sense of this story.  ...

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Twitter passion report: how brands could engage TV and film buffs

TV&Film sub community

Recently we introduced our work with Twitter, uncovering a series of audiences on the platform who are united by their interests. We found that it is simply not enough to approach audience targeting by generic demographics, and by delving into the ways audiences group themselves, you can learn a lot about how to communicate successfully with them. Take a look at the full whitepaper for more details. Now we’re taking a closer look at the community whose main passion is identified as TV & Film.  The TV & Film passion community is a varied audience. Although on average about 60% of this passion community are men aged 22 to 32 living in English-speaking cities such as New York, London and LA, its sub-communities cluster around genres...

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A few bad apples: the vocal, tiny (1%) minority starting most wars on Reddit

A robot to represent Reddit

Can social media platforms do anything about online conflict and abuse without restricting free speech? Two new, unrelated accounts published in the past few days studying the weirdest and wildest large social media platform (Reddit) may help us get a bit closer to an answer. For years, New Yorker magazine contributing editor Andrew Marantz tried to get inside those social media “decision rooms,” and witness first-hand how executives make tough calls about bans, censorship and hate speech. Just how that process plays out on each platform becoming increasingly important. As more and more of people’s private, professional and social life moves online, so do malicious actors aiming to influence, confuse, persuade, disturb and harass. Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook were not...

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People hate platform updates and redesigns. Or do they secretly love them?


Earlier in February, Snapchat changed its design, and users hated it. A million people signed a petition to roll back those changes. Even minor tweaks to any social network: from Twitter to Facebook and Instagram, and beyond, prompts discussion and often instant dislike. But either days, weeks, or months later, users get over it and apps see their usage go up The platform updates fade into the background and becomes the norm, as apps see their design choices validated with usage growth. So why the outcry? Is it just human nature to overreact to change, or does this tell us more about our overdependence on social media than we’d like to admit? We looked into some cases of social...

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The troll’s ugly coming of age

Toy trolls to represent the childhood fairytale that has now become an online nightmare

During the web’s infancy in the 1980s, trolls emerged as tricksters. They were annoying, usually anonymous, mischievous, confusing, and full of counter-cultural significance, mirroring the quirks of the nerds that had created the web. This idea of the troll has not aged well, argues Pulsar research director Jay Owens, and is in dire need of a major cultural update. Researchers and specialized journalists have been chronicling this change for years, but two meanings of the word continue to be conflated in the public’s imagination. From an excellent 2013 history of trolling on the Daily Dot by Mercer University assistant professor of writing Whitney Phillips: “Back then, the term “trolling” first referred to disruptive or otherwise annoying speech and behavior online. These...

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