Tweets supporting Donald Trump are grabbing most of the attention on Twitter in the US presidential race, with the Republican candidate obtaining more support than Hillary Clinton every day except for a week in September, researchers say.
The number of supportive retweets for Clinton spiked sharply above Trump’s on only two days during the month – the day following the September 26 televised presidential candidates’ debate, and after Trump disavowed his false claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Additionally, 31 percent of unique viral retweets supporting Trump originated from his own campaign account, whereas two-thirds of the pro-Clinton messages were retweeted from her campaign account.
Scientists from the Qatar Computing Research Institute, part of Hamad bin Khalifa University, used the website TweetElect.com, which aggregates tweets on the 2016 presidential election, to analyse whether tweets were favouring Trump, Clinton or neither candidate.
Walid Magdy and Kareem Darwish analysed the top 50 retweets every day for the month. Theose were retweeted about 6.7 million times, accounting for more than half of September’s total volume of tweets about the presidential election.
They defined support as clearly providing positive facts about a candidate, attacking a candidate’s opponent, or making fun of the opponent or their supporters.
The study showed 51 percent of retweets supported Trump, whereas only 43 percent supported Clinton. The remaining six percent of tweets were news, had no clear bias, or were negative towards both of the candidates.
“Trump has been getting a greater share of press coverage in the mainstream media, so we were wondering if this is being reflected on social media. It turns out it is,” Darwish said.
“Trump is getting more volume and a greater number of users who are actually tweeting positively about him,, and when you remove the two official campaign accounts, the relative volume of tweets supporting Trump is even greater.”
Donald Trump said pregnancy is very inconvenient for businesses, like his mother's pregnancy hasn't been inconvenient for the whole world.
— Ozzy Etomi (@ozzyetomi) September 15, 2016
While the analysis showed retweets supporting Trump dominating every day, some of the individual most viral tweets during September supported Clinton, including the most popular, retweeted 153,000 times from @Ozzyonce.
“Donald Trump said pregnancy is very inconvenient for businesses, like his mother’s pregnancy hasn’t been inconvenient for the whole world,” it said.
However, when Clinton enjoys success, it appears short-lived, lasting roughly a day. Trump averages 8,400 retweets per tweet, whereas Clinton averages only 5,100.
TweetElect is a version of another platform, TweetMogaz, an Arabic news portal generated automatically from tweets, which QCRI and software company Badr previously developed.