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 9th to January 15th, 2020.

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

  1. A billionaire is giving away $9 million to his Twitter followers in an experiment to see if the money makes them happier | CNN
  2. Mnuchin seeks delay of proposed disclosure of Secret Service spending on presidential travel until next year | The Washington Post
  3. Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence. | The Washington Post
  4. Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment | The New York Times
  5. Trump’s New National Security Team Made Fast Work of Iran Strike | The Wall Street Journal

Just when you thought you’d be spending the whole of 2020 reading about impeachment and the election, along comes a Japanese billionaire to upend the entire week on Twitter.

There are no two ways about it: Yusaka Maezawa – described by CNN as an “online shopping mogul” – won the week with his offer to split $9 million of his personal wealth among 1,000 of his Twitter followers. The one caveat: recipients have to take regular surveys about how they feel. That’s sociology, 2020 style.

Elsewhere, it was business as usual: when people weren’t discussing what they’d do with an extra 90 grand from Maezawa, or lambasting him for only committing a tiny percentage of his wealth to the project, they were talking about politics.

Top issues included: the cost of providing security for the Trump family’s travel (unknown); the end of an inquiry against Hillary Clinton (unfounded); new revelations about the Trump-Biden-Ukraine story (unraveling), and a WSJ piece on how the decision to strike a key Iranian official was made (uncontested).

The 10 Most Used Hashtags of the Week

  1. #FoxNews
  2. #前澤お年玉
  3. #Iran
  4. #MarkZuckerberg
  5. #PatriotismOverProfits
  6. #Soleimani
  7. #Trump
  8. #OneVoice1
  9. #MAGA
  10. #Breaking

Such was the impact of Yusaka Maezawa’s announcement that, for the first time we can recall, one of the top 10 terms this week was in Kanji: #前澤お年玉, which Google informs us translates to “Maezawa New Year’s ball.”

Elsewhere, fierce criticism of Facebook’s decision to not take any steps to verify the truth of political ads led to both #MarkZuckerberg and #PatriotismOverProfits. Indeed, the rise of both those hashtags serve as something of an object lesson in the power of celebrity: both started trending after Star Wars actor Mark Hamill used them in a tweet that went viral (and which can be found in the next section).

The Five Most Shared Tweets of the Week

Given what we’ve seen so far, the top tweet of the week will likely come as no surprise: it’s Yusaku Maezawa commenting on the CNN article that announced his $9 million giveaway to the world. More unusual, however, is that Maezawa also took the second spot, with a Japanese-language version of the same tweet. Truly, free money is the key to online attention.

Elsewhere, Mark Hamill’s tweet (mentioned above) taking Facebook and its CEO to task exploded this week, while tweets commenting on Presidential travel costs and an Iran-based smear by a Republican congressman also got lots of attention.

1. This is going to turn out to be a marketing stunt…right?

2. If so, it has already succeeded

3. Facebook gets on Skywalker’s bad side

4. Calls for travel transparency

5. Preet pulls no punches

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 9th, 2020 to January 15th, 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 9th, 2020 to January 15th, 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 9th, 2020 to January 15th, 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 9th, 2020 to January 15th, 2020 that received the most Retweets, ranked by number of Retweets from that date range.