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Riots drive UK Twitter explosion

Northern Facebook users not bothered

This week’s riots in London and other metropolitan areas of the UK may have damaged the country’s reputation and caused hundred of million of pounds worth of damage but it has done wonders for Twitter and news websites.

Internet-traffic analysts at Hitwise report that its “News and Media” category saw its highest spike in visits so far this year, with a 14 percent increase in UK Internet visits between Monday 7 August and Tuesday 8 August – the height of the rioting, which some are blaming on video games such as Grand Theft Auto.

The BBC has been the biggest recipient of traffic, says Hitwise, with a third of all visits either going to the its homepage or the BBC News website. Sky News was the next biggest recipient, with 7 percent of all visits to the category.

Although people were glued to the news sites for updates on the unrest, it was social network Twitter that benefited the most from traffic as a result of the unrest in London.

The real-time sharing of information through Twitter has made the platform the ideal discussion platform to spread updates on major news events like the riots, and 8 August was Twitter’s biggest ever spike in UK traffic online.

Twitter accounted for 1 in every 170 UK Internet visits yesterday; by Hitwise estimations there were over 3.4 million visits to the Twitter homepage from the UK population alone.

To put that in context, Twitter received 15 percent more visits on August 8 than it did around the super-injunctions scandal, the previous biggest spike in its UK history.

The spike in traffic to Twitter was not repeated on other social media websites, especially Facebook. This may be because while Twitter is used widely across the UK the most prolific Twitter users are located in London postcodes.

Internet users in the South East of London are 26 percent more likely to visit Twitter than the average member of the UK Internet population.

By comparison, Facebook over-indexes in Northern cities such as Hull, Manchester, Doncaster and Blackburn.

The London skew of Twitter users is a strong indicator why Twitter was the preferred social platform to share news on the riots and hence why it received its biggest ever traffic spike.


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