Casey Anthony and the 'Social Media Trial of the Century'
With the Casey Anthony trial and its shocking verdict a couple days behind us, it’s interesting to take a look at how social media interacts with real world news.
The Social Media Trial
Time called it the “social media trial of the century,” and truly social media venues have been overrun with opinions on the trial’s verdict, mostly disapproving.
With enough tragedy, mystery, and deceit to match a prime-time TV drama, it’s understandable why this trial captured the nation’s attention. Many compare the Casey Anthony trial to the OJ trial that had Americans glued to their television sets in 1995.
But there wasn’t much social media in 1995, and this time around social media made it easier than ever for people to get the latest updates on the trial proceedings. Many media organizations launched Twitter accounts that provided instant tweets on the case’s play-by-plays, also offering the option to receive text messages on mobile phones when the verdict was reached.
The Social Media Soapbox
People flocked en masse to voice their outrage at the trial’s results; within an hour of the jury’s verdict “caseyanthony” appeared 34,000 times per hour on Twitter and “notguilty” appeared 20,000 times.
CNN logged 12 million page views during the same time frame, and the story became CNN’s tenth most-popular video stream of all time.
NMIncite noted that 64% of Tweeters disagreed with the verdict and 35% were neutral, leaving only 1% agreeing with the verdict.
Topsy data also shows a severe spike from general contentment with the trial to extreme disapproval upon the delivery of the verdict.
NMInsite also breaks down the different topics and subjects tweeted most:
Google Trends and the Trial
Looking at Google Trends, we can see that the country’s attention was wholly focused on the trial. It’s noteworthy that Nancy Grace, the television journalist who loudly vocalized her belief in Casey’s guilt, topped the actual person on trial.
A Picture Is Worth 140 Characters
With every big social media blowout comes a few humorous creations better known as memes.
Here are a few popular ones floating around that reflect the public’s general sentiment on the verdict:
With Great Knowledge Comes a Sense of Entitlement
While I doubt anyone would argue access to information as a negative, one might question if perhaps the continuous stream of trial-via-twitter has entitled people to feeling they know more than they truly do.
With the backlash against the jurors who found Casey Anthony not guilty, some have needed to remind the public that only the jurors received all the facts and all the information related to the trial.
Social media allows everyone to have an opinion. That is fantastic of course, but opinion isn’t fact, and although the majority of folks felt and vocalized that they thought Casey Anthony was guilty, the jurors were the ones burdened with the task of looking at the evidence and deciding if there was enough evidence there to make a conviction.
Anonymous Juror #2 explained to the St. Petersburg Times that:
“Everybody agreed if we were going fully on feelings and emotions, she was done...I wish we had more evidence to put her away. I truly do."
With an overwhelming number of people expressing their confidence in Casey Anthony’s guilt, it becomes obvious why jurors were sequestered; with television hosts, Facebook posts, and tweets voicing opinion, it is impossible to view the case without bias.
The Casey Anthony trial exemplifies again the power of social media and how it continues to affect the way we receive and react to news.