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Twitter Has Spoken: What Does the Social Community Think of Armstrong’s Confession?

Attensity Europe analyzed more than 250,000 tweets in English related to last night’s confession by Lance Armstrong to doping. Attensity Pipeline delivered 48,000 tweets within just the first 30 minutes of Armstrong’s TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, a clear demonstration of the important role social media plays in tapping into the public zeitgeist.


Time Series January 17, 2013, 05:00pm – 12:00am Pacific Time (times shown in the chart are Central European Time)

Obviously, most tweets in English originated in the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia. In the USA, the majority of the comments originated in California, Texas and New York —  not surprising, considering that California and New York are the heartland of media (social and traditional) and Texas is the home of Lance Armstrong.

Distribution of tweets originating from the USA

The tweets offer some interesting revelations. Anger was by far the emotion most often expressed, followed by disengagement, sadness, excitement, happiness, confusion, and worry.

Emotional terms expressed in tweets

Let’s take a look at the statements expressed in the tweets. That Armstrong doped is the distinct number one (52%), while the confession itself only ranks at number five (5%). Second place goes to cynical and ironic tweets that emphasize Armstrong’s behavior (12%). Third place goes to tweets that criticize his long-time cheating (8%).

However, several hundred tweets point at his charitable deeds related to his Livestrong cancer foundation (7%). Many others express their continuing respect for him (4%) or appreciate his courage for admitting to doping (4%). Two percent of social commenters even write that Armstrong is still their hero.

Compared to the sentiment voiced in traditional print and broadcast media, at least a small part of the social media community seem to be sticking by Mr. Armstrong, even though the majority are angry or disengaged.

Top statements in tweets

Examples of tweets expressing cynicism or irony