This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations. A 24-hour trend report can be downloaded for media.
With demands for social change gripping the USA spreading throughout the world, today’s report looks beyond the COVID-19 conversation to include topics trending across Twitter, news sites, forums and blogs. Over 2 million mentions were analysed to identify the issues driving yesterday’s conversations.
Global protests hit home
As Black Lives Matter protests grow around the world following the killing of George Floyd in the USA, protesters tweeted about their experiences. Conversations about George Floyd and Collins Khosa dominated by volume, as users compared events in the USA to South Africa.
A post by @Tgiferb was a big driver of conversation within the South African Twitter space: it questions the curfew imposed to quell the protests and was retweeted close to 120 000 times with almost 400 000 likes. A video tweeted by @YourAnonCentral two days ago was still being shared over the last 24 hours and has now been viewed more than 1 million times:“New Zealand holds one of the largest Black Lives Matter protests outside of the United States. Global Unity Now, No More Impunity. #ICantBreathe #Blacklivesmatter #GeorgeFloyd”. The post has been retweeted more than
21 000 times with over 100 000 likes.
Sharing the video of the large protest in New Zealand, South African @somadodafikeni tweeted:“Fellow Mzantsi compatriots who are allergic to any talk of racism the world is on the move, don’t you want a ride?”. The post has received 110 retweets and over 300 likes. Tweeting about the public outrage expressed by South Africans over the killing of George Floyd, @andrewwhitfield said:“South Africa is a strange place” and “not one word about Collins Khosa and Petrus Miggels and the 9 other South Africans who have died at the hands of @SAPoliceService.” This post had 217 retweets and 800 likes by this morning.
This sentiment was contested by @siphelele_p (who goes by the name #JusticeforCollinsKhosa on Twitter): “Be outraged if you want to but don’t come here and tell us what’s strange. You are strange!”.
The conversation turned to the topic of farm murders as @Mimosa15Pat commented: “Even President sends condolences to a chap in police custody but thousands of farmers murdered brutally and not even a sigh.”
A video of Andries Tatane who was allegedly killed by South African police 9 years ago was trending yesterday.@XimbaZwile’s tweet of photos of Tatane’s body has been retweeted close to 5000 times. The tweet says Tatane was shot and killed for protesting about water: “Not a single person lost his job or got convicted,”he says, even though an eNCA video and photographic evidence show how he was assaulted and killed.
Online users compared the manner in which black and white people were treated by criminal justice institutions. Many of these tweets were authored in the United States and have been reshared and discussed locally.
@lilyjjanet tweeted: “George Floyd died accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Remember when Brock Turner ACTUALLY raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster, got 6 months of jail but only served 3 months bc of his“good behavior”? Yeah. White privilege is real”. Tweeted at 01:48 on 2 June, the tweet had 419 000 retweets and over 1 million likes by 09:00 today.
@skeezerszn1 tweeted an image of protester James Scurlock, alleging he was shot and killed by a white supremacist who was not charged. He asked people to spread the word: the post received more than 102 000 retweets and over 110 000 likes.
Another widely-shared tweet compared the story of a black woman who was arrested while buying sanitary needs after curfew to a man who allegedly drove his truck into a crowd of protesters and was released from jail with no criminal charges. The tweet gained massive traction, with over 180 000 retweets and more than 300 000 likes.
Desperate times, desperate measures
Legal and illegal ways of making money trended yesterday as the economic impact of the lockdown wears down the resilience of communities. ‘Money’ was mentioned 14 498 times in social media conversations yesterday and appeals by job-seekers trended.@SheIsACreative tweeted: “I lost my job due to the COVID crisis. I am currently looking for a job as a Social Media Manager. I am currently residing in Cape Town and I would appreciate any marketing or admin related jobs/internships, remote or not. Please retweet, and tag on job opportunity tweets”. By 09:00 today the tweet had been retweeted 2200 times, liked 1500 times, and had an approximate reach of 276 921.
@XolaniNgcobo167 tweeted a screenshot of a conversation with Tshepo from Mamelodi, who was looking for work in exchange for food. Tweeted at 25:50 on 2 June, the tweet had been retweeted 1 000 times and liked 1 500 times by this morning. Tsepho replied saying that he had received some support and was grateful.
Not all the stories trending online had such positive outcomes.@kettyZuma tweeted a story about a Cape Town woman who was apparently declined assistance by her employers and two hospitals after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, before dying. Responses were sympathetic, with many people expressing condolences. One user asked the Western Cape Department of Health for an official comment.
Cash in transit heists
Two heists trended on social media yesterday. A cash-in-transit vehicle was rammed and blown up in Kagiso, south of Krugersdorp. The cash was blown all over the streets, and videos of passersby walking around collecting money trended online. @stolencarRSA posted a video of the explosion with the caption “Yeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr?to much explosives”. One commentator replied: “These guys are amateurs, how the drove straight into the CIT van was stupid, and the amount of explosives they used was too much. They blew the entire loot away. I won't be surprised if they post their actions on social media”.
Another robbery that made headlines: a group of men posing as health inspectors robbed the Checkers in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. @BOSBEER2006 posted a video of the men walking into the store and @crimeairnetwork posted an image taken from the video, which had been retweeted 256 times and liked 135 times. Some responders were impressed by the brazen deception, others were disgusted that criminals had used the deadly pandemic as cover for their crime.
Issued by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change.
See Cabc.org.za for daily reports
A deep analysis on any of these issues is available on request.
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation based at UCTs Graduate School of Business and incubated by the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership. It was established to track and counter mis- and disinformation, fake news and divisive and polarising rhetoric that is promulgated online to undermine social cohesion, democratic integrity, and the stability of nation states.
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