By Kristin Schlotterbeck After reading through the Pew Research Center’s mapping of Twitter topic networks, I was curious to compare a few other network maps and was shocked at what I found.
NodeXL, the same mapping application used by the Pew Research Center, maintains an ongoing open-source graph gallery, filled with maps of all sorts of data sets users have explored and uploaded.
I decided to search for a network map of the #MeToo movement, which was the largest hashtag trend that came to mind. The hashtag, which EzyInsights named “The Viral Event of 2017,” was originally envisioned by Tarana Burke in 2006, but amplified via a retweet by Alyssa Milano on October 15, 2017. The tweet was in response to ongoing discussions about the sex crimes committed by Harvey Weinstein after an article appeared in the New York Times detailing his ongoing campaign to silence the women he victimized.
Based on the nature of how the movement trended, I anticipated the network map would look like a Broadcast Network–with Alyssa Milano in the center of a node with maybe a few smaller connected clusters.
Instead, I was surprised to find this map from October 15, 2017:
[The interactive version is interesting, if you can wait for it to load, and can forgive the glitches.]
G1, the largest group, shows many isolated participants using #MeToo, making the map more akin to a Brand Cluster, than a Broadcast Network. This is pretty impressive, given the data set is pulled from the same day as the tweet by Milano. The number of people sharing their experiences and using the hashtag became so large almost immediately that connections between participants became less likely.
This seems to explain at least partially some of the power behind this movement–propelled forward by the strength of so many individual participants, the movement went on to condemn Larry Nassar, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Louis C.K., and a number of other high profile celebrities.
It also explains why the #MeToo movement has sustained and continues to impact our culture and social norms in a way many other broadcast stories may not have through the power of the collective experience.