In the twenty-four hours following the publication of the Sue Gray Report on the 25th of May, around 11.30 am, many across the UK started to digest the news of what the civil servant called “a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time”.
twtData downloaded and performed analysis on tweets related to the report, of which there were at least 37,000 tweets in the first 24 hours after its publication. The response to the report has caused a strong reaction from the public on social media.
At the time of our analysis, this number had risen significantly to 154,000. For the analysis, we used the following keywords and hashtags:
Summary of the stats
Here’s a look at the reaction in numbers;
- At the time of our analysis, the total number of unique tweets stood at 154,881
- Retweet represented 27% of total tweets, at 41,963
- The number of Mentions, where someone’s Twitter handle has been included in a tweet, was 87,340, around 56% of total tweets
- Less than 2% of the tweets were automated (see chart below), meaning that the tweets analysed are a real reflection of public opinion
Sentiment Analysis was conducted on the tweets using twtData’s custom tweet sentiment engine in collaboration with Google Cloud NLP engine. The public opinion as a response to the Sue Gray report stands at -0.6 which implies Very Negative.
Responses ranged from anger and shock to calls for Boris to resign to what effect the news had on snap opinion polls. These are all from the top 10 favourited tweets
Yet, this graphic, showing recent keyword activity related to the reaction to the report shows a stark picture of users' reactions on Twitter. The wordclouds below clearly show negative sentiment on Twitter.
There was a concerted effort to push that there are deeper issues inside Number 10 Downing Street, evidenced by the repeated retweets of tweets from particular accounts.
Just over a day after the report was published, Twitter users were clear that no attempt to distract from the behaviour of those inside the government was going to change the anger that many people currently feel, indicated by this tweet from Twitter user Prem Sikka (@premsikka):
While there seemed to be split opinion on the platform as to whether the country should move on from this:
From tweets suspecting further corruption in No.10 to just anger at what happened, it has certainly caused what you might call a “Twitter Storm”:
This was shown in the most popular accounts being mentioned on Twitter at the time, at least those relating to the release of the controversial report. The data below shows how many times each of the accounts were mentioned, with @BorisJohnson taking the top spot with almost ten thousand mentions, unsurprisingly, given that it could indicate that the general public place the blame on Johnson himself.
By comparison, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, came towards the other end of the chart with less than two thousand mentions, suggesting that the public put considerably less blame on him.
Below, you can find the most popular hashtags around the report and how much they were included in user's tweets in the following twenty-four hours after the report was released, however, the talk of the report has hardly calmed down in the days since. The exact numbers can be broken down below:
Most of the hashtags on the above graph are directly related to the controversy around the revelations contained within the Sue Gray Report, with many calling for the Prime Minister to go; notable as it is by far the most popular hashtag. However, it should be noted that hashtags containing the phrase “JohnsonOut” trend on a weekly basis.
It doesn’t seem like the social media reaction will calm down any time soon. At the time of writing, #partygate was still alive and well on Twitter, with over 1,000 tweets an hour on the day following the report's release, while the hashtag gained at least 127,000 impressions in the previous few hours. A breakdown by numbers of the above hashtag chart can be found below:
How were Tweets posted
Looking at the metrics from the first day of social media activity, the public was quick to react, many on the go, as they consumed the outcome of the report while away from home computers. Here’s a breakdown of how people tweeted in the aftermath of the report's release.
Overwhelmingly, the majority of tweets were posted from portable devices or through the Twitter website, which would allude to the immediacy of the reaction while people were out, at work or otherwise engaged.
An even bigger metric to pay attention to is the fact that only 2% of tweets were automated, making 98% of all tweets real public opinion.
Whose tweets reached the farthest?
With an onslaught of negative sentiment being tweeted in the first 24 hours, it wasn’t a case of who shouts the loudest gets the most retweets but which tweeters struck a chord with the public on Twitter. Here are the top ten instances of accounts and tweets with the most retweets.
It shows that it wasn’t authority figures who controlled opinion; rather that certain tweets from members or public spoke to what the political opinion was at the time.
Most active users
While most took to Twitter to vent their frustration and anger at the revelations, some were far more active than others, engaging with the subject repeatedly. You can see a list of these users below.
This could point to the tendency for Twitter to become a place of discussion about topics such as the Sue Gray Report, leading to a select number of users being far more active than the rest of the platforms user base.
Top favourited tweets
While a number of users made the list of top favourited tweets, it was largely dominated by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, @AngelaRayner and Tweeter Femi_Sorry. The list was as follows:
Who has a big influence?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the accounts with the most influence or followers in this case were news sources and outlets. Breaking new relegations as the organisations scoured through the report, many of them are the first port of call for those wanting to stay up to date with the latest on the Sue Gray Report.
The top influencers, in this case, were
Will Tweets make a difference?
Despite the reaction on Twitter, social media pressure on its own will not force change, however, with this being an ongoing story, the social media activity is unlikely to calm down.
One thing that the reaction on social media does show is that the public has certainly woken up to the culture inside No.10 Downing Street, which the Prime Minister says he has made efforts to change.
What happens next?
Boris will now face a further investigation by the Privileges Committee in Parliament, on allegations that the Prime Minister lied to MPs and a vote of no confidence later on today. So this isn’t going to go away.
We will be investigating this when it comes out, bringing you the latest on the continued social media reaction the #Partygate scandal.