Ok I’ll admit it, while I’m usually very careful before jumping in with personal opinions during breaking news, I, like many others this week, let my emotions dictate what I typed regarding the Jian Ghomeshi fiasco. Very bad practice, I know, but human nonetheless. Sorry about that.
What exactly did I do?
I tweeted a message of support to Jian within hours of finding out he was fired from the CBC, and then a follow up message of support after I read his Facebook Post. Again, I admit that I am usually the first to criticize others for jumping to conclusions way too early on social media (before any facts are known), and yet here I was, doing just that, fervently defending the “innocent until proven guilty” principle. Except in this case, I didn’t even know what he was being accused of yet.
Why did I do it?
I have been of fan of Jian Ghomeshi and his show Q since its inception. I simply couldn’t accept that this Canadian Icon did anything that could justify his sudden firing. This, even if another media personality I listen to, highly respect and even once appeared on a communications panel with (i.e Jesse Brown), was behind the investigation. I was convinced that regardless of what had actually happened, the CBC was overreacting.
What should I have done?
Remained impartial, stepped back, put my critical thinking hat on and listened. At the time, I figured there was no harm in supporting Jian since even the CBC had issued a statement mentioning that “Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well”, which made me “assume” that clearly this isn’t a criminal investigation and likely something personal that is simply reputation damaging (I was thinking a scandalous video of some sort). That being said, even with the latest revelations of eight women coming forward with allegations of violence, I am still not taking any sides publicly. Not that I don’t have a personal opinion anymore, but rather don’t want my uninformed personal opinion adding clutter to the already heavily littered digital discourse on this topic.
Bottom line: None of us have the facts aside from the players involved. Let’s let the professionals actually involved in investigating and litigating this with proper due diligence do their job now.
What does “stepping back” look like from a social network analysis perspective (of course I would throw this in)?
Me being me, I decided to pull some quick visuals based on the last 10K tweets as of this morning mentioning any of the following keywords listed below. Note that the “gate” references came up as growing hashtag communities, hence why I threw them in.
The high level visual of the entire Twitter network surrounding this keyword group is displayed at the top of this post, were you can clearly see that most of the discussion right now revolves around 10-15 key players, whose content is being shared or referenced throughout the rest of the network.
Below is the same visual, zoomed in a bit. Again, notice all of the isolated interactions occurring on the periphery vs the massive central communities that have formed in the middle, and which are shaping the current discourse.
A few highlights:
- Blue (central)=@JianGhomeshi –> Jian’s own account, where the last tweet is still a link to his Facebook post
- Pink (middle bottom)=@torontostar –> Toronto Star news network, which led the investigation (with CanadaLand’s Jesse Brown involved)
- Green (bottom)=@thecurrentcbc –> CBC news program that just aired an interview with Lucy DeCoutere
- Orange (middle right) =@lucydecoutere –>One of the women that has come forward with allegations.
- Aqua (top)=@huffpostcanada –> News network
- Yellow (far right)=@kathleencanada –>Feminist activist currently calling on people to “Unfollow” and “Unlike” Jian.
The more people spread information from a source, the larger its digital footprint grows, and the more likely that it can shape the discussion and public opinion. When Jian was first out of the gate with his side of the story, it spread like wildfire and dominated the discourse (think: single colour dominating the entire social network visualization). Isolated opposing communities (other colours) were starting to grow, but since they had no public content to share/work with, their level of network influence was low. Now that Lucy DeCoutere has publicly disclosed her side, and @JesseBrown along with the Toronto Star have gone public with more details surrounding the investigation, the discourse has become more colourful and less one-sided.
Reading the content being shared in a variety of communities, identifying the key players, and seeing the “big picture universe” for any given topic in a network visualization is just a small part of modern strategic listening and analysis.
By the way, the tool I used for the visuals once I downloaded the Twitter dataset was Netlytic. Try it out, it’s free!
Cheers and sorry again for jumping in as part of the herd on this one,