Donald Trump controls social media conversations, report finds

The Graduate School of Political Management confirmed what we already knew — Republican presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump has taken over the Internet by controlling most political conversations on social media over the past two months.

GSPM published a two-pronged report Tuesday that has analyzed the political social media landscape since March. The project is part of the PEORIA Project, a partnership between GSPM and data analysis company Zignal Labs.

The second half of the report chronicled Internet activity about the 2016 presidential campaign from May 16 until July 19. GSPM researchers tracked each candidate’s “echo,” or number of mentions by social media users. Trump has “overwhelmed the presidential campaign conversation” online, but only 0.2 percent of that attention translated to traffic on his website, the report said.

The researchers found that Trump’s Internet takeover is “all the more impressive” because he was hardly mentioned on social media before announcing his candidacy on June 16. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is the only candidate to increase his or her share of the conversation since Trump jumped in the race.

But all that noise might not mean good things — the researchers found discussion of Trump has mostly been negative. Mentions of immigration increased 54 percent after Trump entered the race, perhaps a connection to Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants.

The researchers also looked through top posts on Twitter and found that candidates centered their tweets around different themes — but still, Trump remains one of a kind.

“Analysis of top tweets reveals a significant topical divide: for some candidates, the top subject was the campaign and the issues; for a second group, celebrities, holidays, and breaking news; and for a third group, Trump himself,” the report said. “Only the first group’s tweets stayed on message.”

According to the number of references on social media, researchers also concluded only eight of the 20 candidates they followed appear to be real contenders. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the most popular individual tweet, with a tweet about climate change receiving 57,000 retweets.

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