Welcome to this week’s edition of The Labs Report, your one-stop, data-driven shop to quickly get up to speed on the most important and influential stories of the week.

Here’s what was trending on Twitter from January 16th to January 22nd, 2020.

The Five Most-Talked-About News Stories of the Week

  1. National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump | The Washington Post
  2. ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals | The Washington Post
  3. How five members of Joe Biden’s family got rich through his connections | The New York Post
  4. The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It | The New York Times
  5. CNN poll: 51% say Senate should remove Trump from office | CNN

While only one of the five most-talked-about stories of the week was directly about the impeachment process, it’s not hard to discern the state of the current political climate from the rest of the week’s list. The top two stories reported on norms violations by the President and/or members of his administration, while the third is a New York Post feature that attempts to put meat on the bones of the allegations against the Biden family (that gave rise to the current impeachment hearings in the first place).

The most alarming of the stories is a New York Times feature on the development of an AI-based facial recognition system that could end the concept of individual privacy. In other times, that kind of harbinger of a dystopian future would likely have been the only thing anyone could talk about. This week/month/year/decade/Presidential term: not so much.

The 10 Most Used Hashtags of the Week

  1. #FoxNews
  2. #Trump
  3. #WEF20
  4. #MAGA
  5. #China
  6. #OneVoice1
  7. #ImpeachmentTrial
  8. #MidnightMitch
  9. #KAG
  10. #TheWeeklyNYT

Setting aside the usual catchall suspects (#FoxNews, #MAGA, #OneVoice1 and #KAG), the week’s top hashtags represent the seriousness of the times: everything from the gathering of world and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos (#WEF20) to the impeachment process (#ImpeachmentTrial, #MidnightMitch), to the Coronavirus outbreak in #China was represented in the top ten – as was The New York Times’ decision on which candidate to endorse for the 2020 election (#TheWeeklyNYT).

The appearance of #MidnightMitch in the top ten – which started trending in protest of Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s initial (and since amended) plan to hold impeachment hearings late into the night – marks an interesting shift in how public pressure can be brought to bear on leaders in the first impeachment proceeding of the social media age. (It also marks a shift in nicknames: the last time McConnell appeared in this section, it was under #MoscowMitch – a hashtag that we covered in some depth here.)

The Five Most Shared Tweets of the Week

As might be expected given the historic nature of the impeachment trial, the week’s top tweets were dominated by Donald Trump. Less expected – it was actually Don Jr. who had the breakout week, notching three of the top five most-shared tweets in the past seven days as he got to work defending the family name and critiquing the media.

Elsewhere, the most-shared tweet comes via Thailand, featuring a link to content about a disagreement over video footage of an incident on a US school bus. 

1. $600 for a video?

2. A rare case of “Is this tweet written in first or third person?”

3. Don Jr. gets his second smash hit of the week…

4. …and proves the rule of three

5. Greg Sargent proves there’s still an appetite for impeachment poll content

Want more while you wait for next week’s edition of The Labs Report? Visit our Resource Center and get in touch with our team to find out more about how Zignal Labs can help you measure the real-time evolution of opinion to drive more powerful campaigns, products and experiences.

Methodology: The data which drives this series is informed by a 10% sampling of Twitter activity around news stories published from January 16th, 2020 to January 22nd, 2020. Stories are published by 25 of the most highly-read publications across the country (based on circulation data), including: ABC News, Bloomberg, The Boston Globe, CBS News, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, Fox News, The Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post, The LA Times, MSNBC, NBC News, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The New York Times, Newsday, Reuters, The Seattle Times, The Star Tribune, The Tampa Bay News, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The “Top 5 Most-Talked-About Stories of the Week” are the five stories from the above-mentioned publications that received the most mentions across Twitter from January 16th, 2020 to January 22nd, 2020, ranked by number of mentions from that date range.
The “Ten Most Used Hashtags of the Week“ are the ten hashtags that were mentioned the most on Twitter around Tweets related to news stories published by the above-mentioned publications from January 16th, 2020 to January 22nd, 2020, ranked by number of mentions from that date range.
The “Top Five Most Shared Tweets of the Week” are the five Tweets, related to news stories published by the above-mentioned publications from January 16th, 2020 to January 22nd, 2020 that received the most Retweets, ranked by number of Retweets from that date range.