Infographic: The Year in News 2015
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The Year in News 2015

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The Year in News 2015

The Year in News 2015

Every social media platform has a differentiating factor that determines how it’s used. LinkedIn, for example, is best suited for networking and business, while Instagram is designed to share photos.

The key differentiation of Twitter has become clear over time: it allows users to stay on top of news and events that are trending all over the world in real-time. It also gives politicians, media, business leaders, and celebrities a soapbox to get their opinions out to the general public. This creates a natural feedback loop to reinforce what is “trending” at any given time.

Echelon Insights, a market research company, has taken advantage of Twitter’s gold mine of data to create a visualization of news in 2015. By analyzing 459.9 million tweets from Americans over the course of the last year, we can now see what topics trended, along with the timing and magnitude of each trending topic.

To ensure that trending news stood out, Echelon Insights removed some of the data outliers related to perennial conversations that get mentions, including President Obama (55 million mentions) and the Republican and Democratic parties. With that filter applied, the most discussed person or issue in the news this year was Donald Trump, with 43 million U.S. mentions, followed by Hillary Clinton, with 31.5 million.

Most Popular News Stories of 2015

SubjectNumber of tweets
Donald Trump43.0 million
Hillary Clinton31.5 million
Iraq & ISIS24.0 million
Bernie Sanders19.2 million
#BlackLivesMatter15.0 million
Iran14.8 million
Freddie Gray13.1 million
Jeb Bush12.5 million
Guns11.8 million
Planned Parenthood11.2 million

The above trending topics were relatively steady and newsworthy throughout the year. However, Echelon also tried to get an idea of the news stories that “spiked” the most by filtering out some of the more constant topics of conversation. Here are the top five stories along with the mentions they gained in the week that they dominated headlines:

Top 5 News Events of 2015

Top EventsNumber of tweets
The Paris attacks, Nov. 8–158.9 million
Freddie Gray & Baltimore, Apr. 26-May 37.1 million
Donald Trump & Muslim immigration, Dec. 6:5.0 million
The Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage nationwide, Jun. 214.9 million
The Charleston shooting, Jun. 143.2 million

The terror attacks in Paris dominated all headlines with 8.9 million tweets. Here’s a final look at the data, except this time it is the same filtered data visualized by mentions per day.

(Click for a larger image)
News headline by issue for each day

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Politics

Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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