‘The Slap’ of a New Social Media Landscape

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Will Smith slapped Chris Rock and a surprised world took to social media. Twitter spiked hot takes, TikTok sparkled with memes, Wikipedia wrote a rough draft of history — and Facebook missed the whole show.

Once the central ring of social media, Facebook has missed a moment of the times, according to data and experts. And it’s worth noting that the once mighty is now too “meta”, having become an outdated redesign, like AOL has become for the Internet.

A surprise incident at an already highly-watched event is a hotbed of backlash on social media – and ‘The Slap’ may have been the first incident to reflect a new social media landscape, according to data from the media company. San Francisco Cloudflare and social media experts.

Smith took the stage and slapped Rock after Rock told a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife. The incident stunned the in-person Oscars audience — and set social media ablaze, but in a new way.

Twitter got 32% more traffic within minutes of the altercation, according to Cloudflare, a San Francisco internet traffic regulation and cybersecurity firm. Moments later, when Smith tearfully apologized to the Academy while accepting the Best Actor award, Twitter traffic peaked, with 51% more traffic than before the incident, data shows. from Cloudflare.

“Twitter and TikTok were the social networks that seemed most impacted at the moment,” the company found in an analysis of Oscars data reviewed by The Examiner.

Cloudflare, a $41 billion public company, protects over 100,000 enterprise customers and over 25 million websites. Cloudflare Radar, a metrics dashboard that provides aggregate information on internet traffic and attack trends, can estimate traffic to websites without seeing who goes there or what they do there.

Cloudflare discovered that a major actor from the past missed the Oscars party.

“Facebook and Instagram were not particularly impacted, although there was a decrease in traffic after the start of the ceremony and requests began to decrease after 7:00 p.m., particularly Facebook,” the Cloudflare report revealed.

You read correctly. When the Smith-Rock incident electrified social media, Facebook traffic was actually down from when the Academy Awards began. Here’s why it matters: Just seven years ago, Facebook was the king of social media and was looking to leverage ‘second-screen’ viewing as a new frontier.

“Viewers are logging into Facebook during their favorite broadcast programs,” the company wrote in an October 2015 rollout of new tools to help the TV industry connect with social media. “We highlighted a relevant study on our Facebook for Business blog which found that 85% of people who said they visited a social network while watching TV said they visited Facebook.”

Not anymore.

“Despite what Facebook wants to be, it’s been bracketed by users as a place where you connect with family, where you might have a political row with a family member. It’s become the nature of Facebook. says Isra Ali, a social media expert at New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics.

Twitter, meanwhile, is “the place you go to see what everyone else is saying, to get the right takes,” says Ali, a clinical assistant professor of media, culture, and communication at NYU.

And it’s not just Twitter that has overtaken its former rival. TikTok saw a spike of 40% more traffic right after Smith’s tearful speech, Cloudflare found. Ali says this reflects a changing social media landscape. “TikTok is younger and is a place where the remix of an event that just happened, like the Will Smith slap, takes place, creating memes.”

Facebook and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter said it could not provide measurements or comment.

On Wikipedia, meanwhile, the Smith-Rock incident was added to the 2022 Oscars article just half an hour after it happened, with volunteer editors discussing how to describe it.

“Obviously the Rock/Smith showdown will be the big story to come out of this ceremony. Where should we put it in this article?” a volunteer editor wrote just 33 minutes after the incident. On the “Talk Page” where people working on a page confer, another volunteer writer replied, “For now, stick to exactly what we saw on the show and put it in a new section.”

This involvement in how the event is perceived goes beyond Facebook’s previous role as a social media home base.

“Wikipedia shows how, as an event unfolds, people process what is happening,” Ali says. There were 17 sources, including NBC, The Guardian and The New York Times, quoted about the incident on Wikipedia less than 24 hours later.

Google also showed a spike in searches for phrases such as “will smith slap” and other phrases peaking half an hour after the incident. And the Oscars website itself saw a 1,300% traffic spike after Smith’s tearful speech.

The “second screen” world has changed, says Alis. “You can see an intensification of speed and a compression of understanding of what happened. And you can see users deciding how they want to use the platforms. We might think the algorithms are brilliant and responsible, but people also determine how they use social media.

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