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“Darkest day” in New Zealand: Mass shooting on Friday

Posted by James Zhang

At least 49 people were killed and plenty was injured on Friday at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand during a well-planned racist attack carried out by a 28-year-old Australian white man. Most victims of this tragic accident were believed as refugees or immigrants. Here are what people say on social media in both New Zealand and the United States.

In New Zealand, till March 15, Saturday, the total volume of the social media posts regarding the mass shooting is 45,000 across mainstream news platforms, Twitter, and Facebook. The conversation on social media sharply increased after March 14, when the mass shooting took place. The top influencers on social media in New Zealand are Air New Zealand; a daily newspaper called New Zealand Herald; and Jonathan Gunson, who is a New Zealand bestselling writer. The overall sentiment on social media related to the mass shooting is overwhelmingly negative. More than sixty percent of social media posts have expressed negativity. The most frequently mentioned words are “New Zealand,” “Christchurch,” “hatred,” “Muslim,” “community,” and “affected.” Specifically, concerning “Muslim,” a lot of social media users expressed their condolences toward the Muslim community while condemning white supremacy. Some pointed out the media’s hypocrisy of not calling the perpetrator of this mass shooting a “terrorist.” It should be noted that individual response to the mass shooting from former U.S. President Barack Obama and former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton got retweeted many times by social media users in New Zealand.


In the United States, the overall volume of social media conversation with regard to the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand is 743, 000 posts. Right after the mass shooting happened on March 14, the social media conversation reached a spike at 600,000 posts on March 15. The top mentioned words on social media across the U.S. are “New Zealand,” “attack,” “families,” “mosque,” “Muslim,” “terrorist,” and “victims.” It is interesting to see that a lot of social media users in the U.S. have chosen to call this tragic mass shooting as a terrorist attack. Users also retweeted the responses from some American politicians, such as Chuck Schumer and Lindsay Graham (both these politicians called the perpetrator as a white supremacist terrorist). In terms of “Muslim,” a lot of American online users retweeted former President Barack Obama’s condolences toward the Muslim community.
The overall sentiment on this trending topic is overwhelmingly negative. More than eighty-four percent of social media users have expressed their negative feeling in their posts in response to this mass shooting.
For the U.S. social media, the press, such as ABC news and CNN breaking news, have been driving the social media conversation with regard to the Christchurch mass shooting.