The Numbers Crunch: Quakes and protests on YouTube

Also, this week's most tweeted stories around the world, Palin sweeps US blogs, and Jpost readers have their say on Jerusalem.

June 19, 2011 18:09
3 minute read.
The Numbers Crunch

Numbers Crunch 311. (photo credit: Mrkay Design)


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With an estimated 30 percent of the world's population, or 2,095,006,005 people online today, and over 180 million web pages, it's impossible to see everything on the Internet, let alone keep on top of the news. Instead, Internet surfers naturally gravitate towards their own interests, using the channels that speak most to them; teens read their facebook news feeds religiously, sports fans follow news and fantasy leagues, and news junkies troll to news pages and increasingly links from social media sites.

With the world population so closely and immediately linked as we are today, the most accurate way to see what people are talking about is to look at online trends. Some issues penetrate almost every corner of the globe, while others remain local matters; The Numbers Crunch pulls data from across the Internet, to take a broad look at the web this week.

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Untangling the Web: Tweeting the Middle East

The top YouTube news topic in the past week, according to the video-sharing site's trends dashboard was two tremors in New Zealand, aftershocks from the Christchurch quake of February 2011. The video-sharing site featured a collection of amateur videos, most of which captured the quakes by mistake:

The quake coverage marked the first week in over a month that videos of protests in the Middle East were not the top news topic on YouTube. In previous weeks, videos of Syria, Bahrain and Yemen had taken the top viewed spots.

In related news, YouTube's Breaking News section featured videos coming out of Greece, where angry youths hurled Molotov cocktails at the Finance Ministry in Athens, and tens of thousands of protesters marched on parliament  to oppose government efforts to pass new austerity laws.

In the twittersphere, similar topics were being discussed, with the top trends globally being #rioters and #rioting. Check out tweet map for real-time trends in your area. In the Jerusalem area this week, for example, the top trends were telling: #israel and #palestine.

In the US, however, bloggers were focusing on more domestic issues like politics and debt, according to the Pew Research Center's New Media Index. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's “One Nation” tour around the country pulled politics up to the top topic in the US, though not by much, pulling in only 12% of online blog mentions. Following close behind were the dangers of cell phones, and US President Barack Obama's meeting with House Republican leaders over the country's economy. readers have their say

Recent polls on have shed light on what readers think about Palestinian 'Naksa Day' demonstrations, what should happen to Jerusalem in a final status agreement, and comments made by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan on Iranian nuclear facilities.

When asked about Palestinian unarmed demonstrations in recent weeks, over 60 percent of respondents  said they saw the protests as a threat to Israel's existence, while some 20% disagreed.

Poll results

On Jerusalem, always a hot topic, the consensus was clear again; Over 60% of Jpost readers who voted said that no parts of Jerusalem should be ceded in a peace deal, with over 20% voting that such concessions will not bring peace.

Poll results

When Dagan said that a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would start a regional war, it sparked a flood of fierce reactions in the Israeli media, some supportive and some slamming the former Mossad chief. Jpost readers too had mixed reactions, with most  (29%) assuming that Dagan “knows something we don't.”

Poll results

From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, the Numbers Crunch is a bi-weekly column which zooms out and brings you the big picture online, from Israel, the Middle East and around the world, and poll results from If you have stats to share, email

The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post

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