Internet trends indicate public interest on recent police-related shootings

Internet trends indicate public interest on recent police-related shootings

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Protesters hold signs ahead of a march against police brutality in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb

The recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas have generated great interest in internet users to learn more about the three incidents.

The Black Lives Matter movement became the top internet trend during the past few weeks.

Cyberspace data available reveals interesting search questions surrounding the shootings, such as the race and identity of police officers involved, the times a victim was shot or the reason people was protesting in Dallas.

As tragic incidents like these occur, internet users around the U.S. take to Google to try to understand what happened. Consequently, the large number of police-related shootings over the past two years has become a trending topic.

Based on data from Google, examples of some of the top searched questions by internet users on the Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police are: “What happened in the Baton Rouge shooting?.” “What race were the cops in the Baton Rouge shooting?,” and “Who were the officers in the Baton Rouge shooting?”

The Minnesota shooting where Philando Castile was shot and killed by police prompted questions by web users on Google’s search engines. Among them were: “When did Philando Castile die?,” “Who shot him?,” and “How many times was he shot?”

The shooting in Dallas where Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas —killing five officers and injuring nine others— also garnered interesting search terms by users, such as: “What happened in Dallas?,” “Who are the Dallas snipers?,” and “What were they protesting in Dallas?”

More people recording shootings
Another interesting trend is that people are increasingly recording video footage of shootings and sharing those videos online.

There is no doubt video recording is growing due in large part to the increase of smartphone viewing.

The number of police-related shootings witnessed in the U.S. over the past two years has seen an increase in individuals recording video with their smartphones.This Google Trends chart reflects users’ search interest in video of shootings:

Expressions become political slogans
Analysis of search engine’s data reflect that the phrases “Hands up don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” have become two integral expressions that identifies and gives voice to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as national conversation on topics surrounding the topic of police shootings.

Additional slogans used during demonstrations include “White silence is violence”, “No justice, no peace”, and “Is my son next?”, among others.

A timeline of search interest on Google

© 2016, Eduardo Barraza. All rights reserved.

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