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Breaking the Internet?

The internet in all of its vastness and complexity is an entity which seems as though it could never fully be enraptured with any single idea.  Over the past week however, a daring socialite dared to attempt the impossible- to unite the internet on a single, solid front.  Or was it rear?  Kim Kardashian attempted to “Break the Internet” last week after releasing photographs along with Paper Magazine of her nude posterior, a publicity stunt that even the most ravenous journalists have dubbed a dubious plan at best.  The whole thing raises the question though: what does it take to actually break the internet?  Well, while some were staring glossy eyed at Kim’s oily rump, others had their gaze fixed on the stars- outer space, more specifically.  Happening almost concurrently with Kim’s internet campaign was the first successful landing of a spacecraft on a comet.  When we compare these events and their effects on social media, as the Wall Street Journal has so graciously already done, some quite interesting trends emerge.

Well as it turns out, rockets are apparently cooler than butts.  At least according to twitter which had approximately 480,000 mentions of the comet landing as of 11/13/14 compared with a measly 307,000 mentions of Kim.  The more interesting thing to note though within the Wall Street Journal’s analytic of the twittersphere is both the trend in tweets per minute and the sentiment relating to each story.  In my opinion it’s very possible that the general sentiment and tweets per minute in the case of Kim’s story were affected by a form of social networking information cascade.  When one analyzes the tweets per minute with regards to #breaktheinternet, it’s easy to see that the trend was much less isolated than was the case for the comet landing.  While it’s likely that most individuals who learned of the landing made a more immediate decision to post regarding the event quite soon after it occurred, I feel it’s very plausible that as more individuals saw posts regarding Kim they formed an opinion of the event based on what they were reading in other tweets.  This could have quite possibly led to the more generally negative impression of that story that is noted in the Journal’s post.  While Kim may not have succeeded in her goal of breaking the internet, she without a doubt gave grounds for discussion of herd dynamics in the realm of social media.


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