The Numbers Crunch: Gifts from Egypt’s army

Egyptians tweet for presents; GOP candidates compete with football; JPost readers skeptical of talks.

Numbers Crunch 311 (photo credit: Mrkay Design)
Numbers Crunch 311
(photo credit: Mrkay Design)
Stories which make waves on social media often correlate with the big stories in Internet news, but not always. A Twitter hashtag which highlighted this anomaly was dominant in the Middle East at the end of this week – #scafgifts.
After an Egyptian columnist predicted that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would offer “gifts” to civilians to deter them from returning to the streets in protest, Twitter users posted a flood of satirical tweets on the issue. Some referenced tear gas used on protesters during the waves of unrest in 2011, others said they wanted gifts like iPads, sunglasses, and one user even called for “tons of hashish to meet the needs of the citizens.” There was also a significant percentage of serious comments, speaking out against the country’s military rulers. The tweets were posted in a mix of English and Arabic.
On Twitter in the US, meanwhile, it was neck-and-neck between sports and politics, with the tags #romney and #knicks vying for the top spot, according to the trend-mapping site.
On US mainstream media, the presidential campaign, or more specifically the Republican primaries, was the top story according to the Pew Research Center, followed by the nation’s economy. The two issues took 52 percent and 8% of the news hole, respectively. In terms of interest, however, a PRC index found that 27% of Americans followed the election campaign most closely, while 19% were more interested in the economy.
Middle East issues largely failed to register in the US this past week, though US-Iran tensions pulled 9% of news interest and 3% of coverage. The index found that Republicans were more likely to express interest in this story than Democrats (29% and 19%, respectively).
While US political stories did draw traffic on in the past week, four of the five top stories focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, including a hit on a Tehran scientist. Like the New Hampshire primary and domestic dialogue in Israel over racism, the second round of diplomatic talks in Amman didn’t make it to the list.
JPost Top Five most-read stories:
1.      US commander visits Israel to finalize missile drill
2.      US navy rescues Iranian hostages held by pirates
3.      E-mail reveals anti-Semitism at US think tank
4.      Russia 'regrets' Iran enriching uranium in bunker
5.      'Car bomb kills nuclear scientist near Tehran university'
On the JPost talkback forums, last week’s stories seemed to stimulate more debate than newer pieces, perhaps a testament to the fact that things were pretty quiet on the news front. Here a wider range of subject matters can be seen, from the GOP race to a Daily Beast article on the Iranian threat, protests in Beit Shemesh and ongoing diplomatic issues.
JPost Top Five most-active threads:
1.      Gingrich condemns Ron Paul for abandoning Israel
2.      ‘US, Israel discuss ‘triggers’ for Iran attack’
3.      Hundreds of haredim riot in Beit Shemesh
4.      Security Council members line up to criticize Israel
5.      Muslim Brotherhood vows not to recognize Israel
Speaking of which, JPost readers seemed skeptical after the second round of Israel-Palestinian talks in Amman drew relatively little attention in the media. Almost 50% of respondents to a recent quick vote said that it didn’t matter how Israel dealt with the negotiations, as they were all for show anyway. A further 20% thought Israel should refuse to engage with the PA until it halts reconciliation talks with rival Hamas.

Zooming out to the YouTube newsroom, dramatic videos of Sicily’s Mount Etna erupting pulled hundreds of thousands of views. This video created by editing time-lapse photographs together, for example, pulled almost 100,000 views in the past week.
And for this week’s random stats: The top Google searches in Israel in the past seven days:
1.    Facebook in English
2.    Facebook in Hebrew
3.    Walla in Hebrew
4.    YouTube
5.    YouTube in Hebrew
6.    Google
7.    Ynet
8.    Yad 2 in Hebrew
9.    Leumi bank in Hebrew
10.  Walla in English
Note: Language refers to search terms, rather than search results.
In the top “news”-related searches in Hebrew, which oddly seem hardly news-related, five of the top 10 search terms related to weather or weather forecasts, four to banks, and one to health fund Maccabi.

From news sites to blogs, tweets to videos, The Numbers Crunch is a 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
The writer is the Internet desk manager at The Jerusalem Post.