Issue distance on twitter

The 2012 rape case in Delhi, India within the # rape discourse

Loes Bogers, Richard Rogers, Saskia Kok, Carlo De Gaetano, Stefania Guerra

Research question

How far from the top of Twitter's #rape hashtag is the Delhi rape case?
What is the issue distance between the Delhi gang rape of December 16, 2012 and the general issue of rape on Twitter in the 3 months following the rape itself (time of legislation revisions and the trial of the offenders)?

Dataset & Tools
8.491.020 tweets by 3.589.777 unique users from 2013-01-15 to 2013-06-27 containing the hashtag gangrape, rape. Using the Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolset

  • Locate the top of the general rape discourse by finding the top 15 most retweeted tweets with #rape hashtag
  • Locate the specific discourse around the rape case in India by finding the top 15 most retweeted tweets in a subset (only #rape tweets that also contain India AND rape)
  • Show issue distance between the top 15 tweets and the top 15 tweets from the subset in the entire #rape set
  • Visualize issue distance in scatter plot incorporating tweets and key event timeline from the December 2012 gangrape case
  • Time period for both datasets: 15.01.2013 – 15.03.2013
  • Frequencies: daily
  • Retweet threshold: 20
  • Dataset 1: General discourse on Rape
  • Filter tweets by query: rape
  • Number of tweets: 3.191.591, Number of distinct users: 1.655.910
  • Dataset 2: Specific Delhi Rape
  • Filter anew with query: India AND rape
  • Number of tweets: 117.784, Number of distinct users: 46.725


found here:

Fragment of the upper set

Fragment of the lower set


The upper set of highlighted tweets are the top fifteen retweeted tweets in the #rape, and the lower set of highlighted tweets are the top fifteen retweeted when filtered for India and Delhi.

  • There is a great distance between the top tweets in the #rape dataset and the subset (800-4000 retweets).
  • The substance of the most popular retweets is distinctive from the Delhi rape case retweets. The most popular retweets are cynical, showing "contempt for accepted standards of (…) morality" (dictionary definition)
  • The delhi subset is a serious content space, made up of quality news as well as engagement in women’s issues.
  • Twitter seems to remain a vernacular (vulgar) space, where query and filtering techniques are required to locate the substance of some urgency.

Suggestions for further research

Characterization of the hashtag
e.g. Who uses it? Where are the users located?
Topic revision: r2 - 18 Nov 2013, RichardRogers
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