Twitter erupted over the news that Rupert Murdoch’s 168-year-old tabloid News of the World would be shutting its doors forever this Sunday in response to the controversy over their phone hacking. And, despite “News of the World” itself only trending on Twitter for a brief moment early Friday morning, this scandal could prove to be bigger than even the massive super injunction scandal which preceded it.
The super injunction scandal was the biggest single event on Twitter prior to the closure of New of the World, with over 80,000 tweets. However, New of the World has dwarfed that mega-scandal, attracting over a quarter of a million comments on Twitter -and growing.
While “News of the World” only trended briefly, We are Social examined a variety of words and phrases associated with the event, including “murdoch”, “Rebekah Brooks” (the editor in charge during the hacking of a murdered girl’s cellphone), and saynotonotw (a protest hashtag).
In the graph below, you’ll see the explosion in popularity of the above keywords related to the News of the World on Twitter. Notice that the vast majority of the conversation is happening on Twitter, as opposed to forums, in the news, or on blogs.
In the following graph, the popularity of terms related to the super injunction is compared to the popularity of terms related to the New of the World closure. Over the past 68 days, you’ll notice that the super injunction peaked at about 80,000 tweets at its height in May, while the News of the World has exploded past that milestone to nearly 250,000 tweets. Also note that we are still in the midst of the News of the World scandal, while the super injunction has died down, so the quarter of a million number could grow.
It looks like the closure of the New of the World will not only be one of the biggest media stories of the year, but it will also be one of stories with the biggest Twitter impact. Just as the super injunction scandal led to an increase in UK Twitter users, I’d expect New of the World to drive new user signup as well.