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75 days of the Occupy Movement

December 16th, 2011 by Adithya Rao
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Social media allows people to voice their opinions and spread their ideas to an audience on a scale that was unimaginable a few years ago. An idea propagated on social media by multiple sources can gain momentum, reach critical mass, and culminate in real world change.

The Egyptian Revolution is a recent example of this phenomenon. Today, we are in a similar situation. The Occupy movement in social media has become so closely intertwined with events in the real world that the two are hardly distinguishable. Here, we take a closer look at how the Occupy movement advanced through actions on Twitter.

Adbusters, the anti-consumerist magazine, initiated the “Occupy” idea in June just on the heels on the Egyptian Revolution. However, it only gained traction on Twitter in the later half of September. The agitation in the social media space helped solidify plans for the Occupy Wall Street protest that occurred on September 17th, 2011. This day is considered widely as the start of the Occupy movement.

We analyzed retweet data from Twitter between September 15th, 2011 and November 29th, 2011. We looked for all retweets that mentioned “occupy” and related terms (even #occupyklout). The chart below shows the number of retweets per day over the 75-day period. The peaks in activity correspond, unsurprisingly, to important events in the timeline of the movement.

The table below shows the number of retweets on days that Occupy events occurred. It is interesting to note that in some cases, the rise of Twitter retweets follows a real-world event, while in other cases it precedes real-world events.

Date # of Retweets Event
9/17/2011 70,307 The first day of the Occupy Wall Street gathering that an estimated 1,000 people attended.
9/24/2011 59,084 At least 80 arrests are made by the NYPD after protesters begin marching uptown, forcing the closure of several streets. Soon after the arrests, videos begin to appear around the web.
9/25/2011 68,103
10/01/2011 118,290 Protesters set out to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Times reported that more than 700 arrests were made.
10/02/2011 133,726
10/04/2011 86,686
10/05/2011 116,305 Joined by union members, students, and the unemployed, the demonstrations swelled to the largest yet with an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 demonstrators marching from lower Manhattan’s Foley Square to Zuccotti Park.
10/06/2011 167,345
10/14/2011 186,391
10/15/2011 257,894 Tens of thousands of demonstrators staged rallies in 900 cities around the world.
10/16/2011 203,050
10/25/2011 103,462 Police cleared and closed an Occupy Oakland encampment. An Iraq War veteran from the U.S. Marines is in critical condition after “being hit in the head by a police projectile.”
10/26/2011 244,228 Hundreds of OWS protesters marched near Union Square in support of Iraq War veteran and Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen.
10/27/2011 193,265
11/15/2011 394,463 NYPD began to clear Zuccotti Park.
11/17/2011 261,392
11/18/2011 144,007 Occupy movement protesters on the UC Davis campus are pepper sprayed.

We also looked at the top content based on retweet count. The average Klout score of these users is about 65.

Content # of Retweets User Klout Score
0 Bankers Were Arrested After Purposely Crashing Our Economy. Nearly 1,000 Have Been Arrested for Speaking Up About it. #OccupyWallStreet 5874 TheNewDeal 67
NYC authorities clearly feel #OWS eviction is just and reasonable. That’s why they are doing it at 2am and barring all press. 4427 gzornick 58
█████ ████ everything ███ █████ is█████ ████ fine ████ ███ ██████ love █████ █ your █ ████ government #ows 4235 wikileaks 73
#occupyoakland attacked by 500 cops in suprise assault. tear gas, rubber bullets, shotguns, flash bang grenades. Many injured. 4126 occupyoakland 72
If Fred Phelps has the right to verbally abuse people going to their son’s funerals, then #OWS has the right to sit in the middle of a park 3797 MarthaPlimpton 69
The world needs to know that Oakland PD is tear gassing the elderly, the disabled, children, and the press. #PoliceState #OccupyOakland #OWS 3370 AnonymousWiki 51
After cops raided #occupysf and tossed their stuff in the dump, garbage workers returned it to the protesters, saying “we r 99 % too” 3336 NaomiAKlein 66
#OWS and #OccupyWallStreet are blocked from Trending topics. But its great to know that twitter lets #MyDickIn3WordsOrLess take first place 3098 SweetOnPeacexx 53
#OWS Fact: More people have now been arrested for protesting financial crimes than the # of bankers arrested for committing those crimes. 3008 xeni 72

So who were the catalysts of this massive movement? We discovered the top influencers by looking at Twitter users whose Occupy-related content was retweeted the most. The table below shows the top users and the number of times their content was retweeted. Incidentally, the average Klout score of these users is about 73.

Many of the top influencers are groups of people, such as the hacktivist group Anonymous (@AnonyOps, @AnonOps, and @YourAnonNews). We also find prominent figures driving the movement such as filmmaker Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont. But the true power of social media is that you don’t have to be a famous director or a U.S. senator to be heard. Lesser-known individuals such as Liza Sabater and Allison Kilkenney were instrumental in driving action not only in social media but in the real world as well.

The Occupy movement demonstrates that with social media, a small group of influencers can generate and spread an idea that reaches thousands of people, who in turn amplify the idea to millions of others. Klout aims to be a tool for measuring influence. But beyond that, Klout enables people to find the right channels to make themselves heard and to find the right people who will take their ideas further.

So go ahead, spread an idea. Start a movement!

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Adithya Rao

Latest posts by Adithya Rao (see all)

This entry was posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011 at 9:15 am and is filed under influencers, social media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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  • joelgoodman

    Surprised you didn’t use #N17 in your metrics considering it was the largest event to date. That’s a huge gap.

  • michael light

    This is a great collection of stats! Thank you!!

  • Rachel Veronica

    What a joke. That’s the thing about Klout, it measures influence but doesn’t tell you if it’s positive or negative. Myself and other retweeted a lot of OWS tweets, but mostly to mock the hell out of it.

  • CJ Nelson

    Absolutely! We retweeted #OWS for entertainment value.

  • lc

    I’m interested in how these stats are going to affect our use of the internet.

  • Jorge A. Mussuto

    Excelente infografia y data:) about Occupy

  • 69YourMom

    Klouts numbers ALWAYS seem to be off. Look at the graph and notice the spike is noted as “UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident.” Then look at the chart below and notice the REAL spike was when they were closing Zuccoti park. The UC Davis caused a second but milder bump shortly after, noted in the graph, but even that event was out-tweeted by an anonymous event that happened on the 17th but was unaccounted for in the timeline. 

    I noticed how Klouts numbers are constantly wonky after seeing my “Network Impact decreased by 6.36 points” despite the fact that my “Network Impact” numbers and graph had gone UP (not down).

    Sorry, I thought this site would give me relevant information but it is rather useless since they can’t seem to do some basic things like “match data.” If they can’t do THAT, then how are these magical algorithms REALLY expected to be truested?! 
    This is just too sloppy.
    I’ll probably be closing my Klout in the next day or so now that I see how bogus the data is.

  • Guest

    Influence is influence, regardless of direction.  If you retweeted something to mock it, you are STILL spreading it.

    First they ignore you,
    then they laugh at you,
    then they fight you,
    then you win.

  • Strategy Fiend

    what a silly comment. that’s a negative reply btw. 

  • Best Business Brands

    The first day of the Occupy Wall Street movement, where an estimated 1K people attended, produced 70K+ retweets.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting to see the tweet about twitter “blocking” #OWS got so many retweets, since it’s completely wrong. Sometimes wisdom of the crowds works and sometimes it doesn’t, I guess.

  • Jay

    Something tells me you don’t even know what you were mocking.

  • Luis M Sanchez

    Very interesting comment Rachel! I feel the same way, and because of that lack of sentiment analysis of Klout, I started my own thing called ttwick where I track sentiment and other things. For now, we are tracking US politics, but will be releasing OWS and other things soon.

  • Stephen Gutowski

    Nice to see Klout dive into the tank for the occupiers… I’ll hold my breath for the post on how these tweets stack up against the anti-occupier tweets.

  • Stephen Gutowski

    How influential were the tweets documenting the violence and sexual assaults in the Occupy Wall Street movement?

  • Uri Bushey

    But you were talking about it. This was the great victory of #OWS: driving the message. 

  • Entre2Nuages

    Oh you mean the ones which were initiated by undercover agents to discredit the movement ?

  • Entre2Nuages

    let’s try a simple algorithm like 1 to 99% perhaps
    But I do agree that the klout ” analysis is in a world of its own.

  • Stephen Gutowski

    You’re saying the multiple rapes in multiple occupy camps across the country were all perpetrated by undercover cops to make the occupiers look bad? That’s your argument?

  • Burkhard Tomm-Bub

    (german) Beschert occupy Frankfurt! Infos hier:
    #occupy #occupyFrankfurt

  • LK

    Here’s the Occupy movement with influencers analyzed across news. blogs, tweets and tv transcripts. Paints a somewhat different picture……

  • J Bencharsky

    There’s no such thing as “bad” press.

  • Michael J Donahue

    >”the demonstrations swelled to the largest yet with an estimated 5,000
    to 15,000 demonstrators marching from lower Manhattan’s Foley Square to
    Zuccotti Park.”
    That’s nothing compared to the over 250,000 people that march on Washington every January since 1973 to promote life. Why aren’t they being called a “massive movement” of social media, since they get next to no coverage by the major news networks, as apposed to the Occupy movement that has camera’s on them every second? It appears that the Occupy movement is more a classic case of the Major media covering what they want to promote (the death of capitalism) and the Pro-life march is more a phenomenon of social media.

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  • Internet Marketing Company

    Yes from this it seems clear that twitter is still fully social media and hold the all discussion about the social issues! 

  • herp derp de derp

    Simply because abortion is funny, while destroying capitalism is serious business.  Pro-lifers are just consistently boring buzz-kills.

  • Anonymous

    All of us involved with ows know what we have accomplished and what we are working towards. I believe Klout is just one tool of many used to measure anything. Now looking at comments is another tool.
    We all know about Gandhi and how powerful and meaningful his words were. We all have used his “First they…., then you win” (Long quote had to shorten it) to provide us an idea of where we are at. Looking at the comments of anti-ows folks gives you a feel of that. But it also shows how people can be somewhat brainwashed. If you notice they will never say anything positive, nothing. They do love to find a story about one person who does one thing, one time and beat it to death by posting it everywhere. I know many people who are not a part of occupy but do keep an open mind and research before making a statement. Everyone of these guys say the same thing, “Of course there are problems at ows camps. They are outdoors and they do not turn anyone away. They house, feed, and care for the people that society has thrown away. But to then use their kindness and generosity against them by holding them accountable for the actions of these people shows that these people are willing to go to any lengths to discredit the movement”. Of course they will never admit that when they throw out these accusations of crimes. Also it was always fun to here all the different descriptions of occupiers, which varied drastically and were often wrong. Also the assumption that ows consisted of only those whom were sleeping outdoors or occupying. They failed to see the thousands of others they couldn’t actually see. If they ever say ows has accomplished nothing and you start to show hard evidence to the contrary they disappear, literally. One of the many things we share with the Arab spring is there has been and always will be those that will do anything to discredit what us. But we know the truth and soon so will the world.

  • Entre2Nuages

    I think it certainly merits as much scrutiny as sweeping the whole OWS movement as a band of lunies.
    It would be perhaps naive to ignore gouvernements well known tactics to discredit what they fear they cannot control. Has 2011 not given enough exmaples across the globe ? Has Putin recent condoms comments not reminded people that there is no end of methods power won’t use to remain at the top.
    Now you go and check facts out for yourself_ I am not there to do it for anyone, but neither do I fall into the believe everything I am told camp- I like to see , think and reflect .

  • Marg1nal

    Hmm, not sure if I trust an ex-wall-street analyst to “explain” what the “data” really means… kind of like having the cops investigate themselves.  You wall street quants missed a few things recently, or have you forgotten the events of the last few years?  Earth to bankers and corporations:  we don’t trust you.  Earth to media: not sure if we trust you either.  My “sentiment analysis”:  people are pissed and ready to act.  Despite purposeful misrepresentation of issues and obfuscation of the facts by press and corporate interests, the movement is gaining ground because we the people are taking you out of the info loop.

  • marg1nal

    Yeah, totally… I retweeted a bunch of tweets about injustice, starving children, mentally ill homeless veterans, police and state oppression, etc, but mostly just to mock them.  Frankly it’s hilarious.  Ha ha ha.

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  • Strategy Fiend

     You’re going to run an analysis to see if the people like being ripped off? Or to see if they buy into propaganda?

    I’d like to see the algorithm used to determine how much of a waste of time this will be!

    Everybody who gets their info from mainstream media = Clueless.
    Everybody who isn’t clueless or benefiting from current system = Opposed to the banks and major corporations owning our politicians.
    Everybody else = Scum.

    Let me give you my credentials: Not a zombie. There’s more, but that should be more than enough.

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