The interest and the conversations of the “people of the web” about the attacks in Istanbul and about the terrorist attacks

The new Alkemy Lab’s data driven research investigated the information flows that moved around the recent events in Turkey and the rest of Europe

The terrorist attack in Istanbul and the other attacks that occurred in 2016 are the focus of the new data driven research carried out by Alkemy Lab as part of the DEEP project, in collaboration with Catchy and with the newsroom of Gianni Riotta’s information platform. The result of the study is an overview about the elements that formed the focus of interest of information flows and of the realized research.

The beginning of 2017 was marked by the terrorist attack which struck Istanbul just during the night of the New Year, while people were celebrating the arrival of the new year. The attack on the Reina realized the widespread fears about the safety in the 2017 New Year’s eve, which raised the alert level in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. The attack aroused the interest of international public opinion: through web and social, news and messages about Istanbul and the terrible attack bounced by side to side of the globe.

Data source Twitter API.

Social conversations about the attack in Istanbul, dominated by the hashtags #istanbulattack and #istanbul, are characterized by the presence of references to the events that occurred in the New Year's Eve: in addition to the site of the massacre - the #Reina - and to the organization that claimed the responsibility for the attack - the #isis -, emerges the attacker's clothing retail. The hashtag #santa indeed demonstrates how an element usually unimportant in matters of such gravity, instead became a distinctive element in social conversations, probably because of its grotesque nature: the bomber was wearing a Santa costume.

Data source Twitter API.

Studying the way in which in recent days the volume of conversations on topics related to the attack, we see a strong involvement in the hours immediately after the fact, involvement that reaches its peak in the middle the first of January. The following decrease of messages on the topic is interrupted by a new surge of tweets, which coincides with the hours during which it has spread the news of the claim of the attack by ISIS. Just in the morning of January 2, the international media have indeed begun to spread the news that the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement of the Amaq, its press agency.

Data source Twitter API.

Twitter messages about the topic ISIS were dominated by various references to the same Islamic State and to the territories where the organization is stronger, primarily Syria and Iraq.

Very strong is the presence of the attack topic: #istanbul hashtag is the second most present in the conversations on the Islamic State - overcome only by the same #ISIS - and, along with #turchia and #Reina, represents about one-tenth of all the hashtag present in the tweets about ISIS.

Among the most popular topics there is also the Operation Ice Isis, the operation of Anonymous which aims to fight the ISIS undermining the influence and the online propaganda, through the collection of information and the account cancellation of ISIS’s affiliates and supporters.

With the attack in Istanbul, Turkey suffers another hard blow by terrorist organizations: in the course of 2016 already Ankara, Gaziantep and Hakkari were hit by terrorist attacks, and in the same Istanbul the last attack occurred just last in December 10.

The trend of the interest towards these places shows how the major peaks of attention have been achieved just as they have become the place of the attacks.

Ankara becomes very searched online in the mid of February and March: on February 17th and on March 13th, indeed, exploded car bombs in the city center, causing 58 people dead and over 60 injured. Also for Istanbul the trend shows, with its peaks, what were the attacks in 2016: from the explosion in the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, on June 28, up to the massacre at the Reina in the New Year’s Eve, with special attention also shown on December 10 for the attack outside the football stadium of Besiktas.

Expanding the overview to all Europe, it also includes the cities where occurred some of the major attacks of 2016: Brussels, Nice and Berlin. Even for these cities, the maximum search interest is shown in the period of the attack. The major peak is presented by Nice, which proves to be the most discussed topic in much of the world. Berlin has instead been the most researched topic in Europe and parts of Latin America; Istanbul interested the same Turkey and some surrounding States.

Text, bigdata analysis and graphics edited by Carla De mare, implemented under the DEEP project of Alkemy Lab, in collaboration with Catchy