From “What” to “How”: A Twitter Discussion Analysis

 

On Nov. 5, 2017, after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad el Hariri on TV from KSA, the trending hashtag in Lebanon was #استقالة_سعد_الحريري (the resignation of Saad Hariri). The discussion on Twitter was revolving around the “What” happened.

The day after, the discussion, on the contrary, was focused on the “How” it happened, mainly a new hashtag #الاقامة_الجبرية or “house arrest” (forced residence).

This shift in perspective is quite interesting from a political point of view because it automatically negates the effects and reasons for the resignation, and even the resignation itself.

We ask ourselves how did this really happen on Twitter? Based on a sample of 6,867 tweets all containing the “house arrest” hashtag, we conclude the following:

  • The hashtag was initially launched by ArabTimes and MBNsaudi pertaining to the arrest of several princes in KSA, not including Saad Hariri
  • The hashtag was reetweeted and “owned” by Wiam Wahab who added Saad Hariri to the list of the arrested people
  • In our sample, 270 people mentioned, retweeted or commented on this post.
  • An interesting trending Tweet (161 engagements) is the one launched by Charbel Khalil, asking Saad Hariri to take a selfie anywhere outside his residence in KSA to prove he’s not detained.