Fresh Data

How Americans are using social media; trolling Trump via UK music charts; and more.


  • The Pew Internet Center is out with the results of a new survey on Americans use of social media, including these findings:

  • 53% of U.S. adults have used social media in the last year to participate in a cause-related group, encourage others to take action, find out about rallies or protests, change their profile to show support for a cause, or used a political or social hashtag.

  • Democrats are somewhat more likely than Republicans to report these activities in the last year, with 24% saying they have looked up information about rallies or protests, compared to just 9% of Republicans.

  • Black and Hispanic social media users are more likely than whites to say social platforms are important for political purposes like finding others who share their views, getting involved, or giving them a venue to express them.

  • Nearly 70% of Americans think social media plays an important role in getting elected officials to pay attention to issues.

  • 65% say social media highlights issues that might not get a lot of attention otherwise, but more (77%) think it also distracts people from issues that are really important.

  • Five years after the first appearance of #BlackLivesMatter, Pew also found that the hashtag has been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter along. The report also looks at the popularity of hashtags like #MAGA, #MeToo, #Resist, and #LoveWins.

  • Related: Twitter is starting to remove tens of millions of fake accounts in an effort to clamp down on the market for fake influence, Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel Dance report for The New York Times.

  • Speaking of using social media to protest, right now in the UK, there’s a massive effort underway to get people to download the Green Day song “American Idiot” to push the 14-year-old single to the top of the charts in time for President Trump’s visit there tomorrow, as CNN’s Doug Criss reports.

  • This is civic tech: CountLove has verified and mapped (from local news sources) 582 demonstrations using the banner of #FamiliesBelongTogether since the issue burst on the scene last month.

  • Related: RAICES, the Texas nonprofit that has received more than $20 million in donations from more than 500,000 from a online fundraiser on Facebook that went viral is now struggling to figure out how to make the biggest impact with that money, Teo Armus reports for The Washington Post. It has disbursed more than $82,000 to pay off bail bonds for 18 detained immigrant parents, and it is offering the Department of Homeland Security the $20 million to pay off bonds for more detained parents and to transport them to their children.

  • Six years worth of Chicago Police Department stop and frisk data is now available to the public thanks to the Chicago Data Collaborative and Lucy Parson Labs.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Lots of news publishers are steaming at Facebook because the company has started requiring news articles on political issues to be classified as political ads when a publisher pays to promote them, and as Lucia Moses reports for Digiday, their ranks are being led by Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York Times, who recently called this practice “a threat to democracy.”

  • While Facebook is touting its efforts to improve the quality of information that gets shared via News Feed, it allows InfoWars, a conspiracy site with a million Facebook followers, to operate unimpeded—a contradiction that its news executives struggled to explain when questioned on it yesterday by Oliver Darcy of CNN. John Hegeman, head of News Feed, said “I guess just for being false that doesn’t violate the community standards” and InfoWars has “not violated something that would result in them being taken down.” Hegeman added, “I think part of the fundamental thing here is that we created Facebook to be a place where different people can have a voice. And different publishers have very different points of view.”

  • Working with Nate Persily of Stanford and Gary King of Harvard, Facebook data scientists have posted the web page addresses shared on Facebook since 2017.