Thanks to seemingly constant coverage on channels like HLN, the Casey Anthony murder trial was this summer’s hot "reality TV" ticket—and Tuesday’s verdict has become the hot topic of online conversation.
The not-guilty verdict came as a surprise to many observers and has naturally led to frequent comparisons to the O.J. Simpson murder trial. But O.J.'s 1995 acquittal came before the explosion of the social web. “The O.J. trial may have had broader media attention,” Brent Idarola, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, told The New York Times, “however, social media platforms were not in place at that time, so the collective echo chamber has been unprecedented.”
Facebook posts reacting to the verdict came in “faster than we can even count, meaning at least 10 of them per second,” said All Facebook, and according to social media analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, there were 325,283 Twitter posts on Tuesday about the Casey Anthony trial—most from around the time of the verdict. There was an overwhelming agreement among Twitter users as to the outcome. According to data from NM Incite, 64 percent of people on Twitter disagreed with the "not guilty" verdict, while only 1 percent agreed. (35 percent remained neutral.)
MSNBC pushed the Simpson-Anthony comparison, asking Crimson Hexagon to estimate the number of tweets the Simpson verdict might have generated. “We’d speculate that it would be several hundred percent larger based on the way the O.J. trial truly captivated the entire nation at the time," a spokesperson said.
The hashtags #caseyanthonyverdict and #notguilty shot to the top of Twitter’s “trends” list, while other verdict-related topics surged in popularity—including “Johnny Cochran,” O.J. Simpson’s infamous lawyer, and “Dexter Morgan,” Showtime’s serial killer known for taking out other murderers. Entenmann’s baked goods got into hot water for taking advantage of the #notguilty hashtag to promote its own “tasty treats.”
Even after the initial reactions to the verdict die down, says the Times, the enduring skepticism about Anthony’s innocence will ensure that the case becomes media and tabloid fodder for years to come.