Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SPUC, the American Edition

There are many ways one could respond to receipt of SPUC's anti marriage equality flyer. Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing was this chap who ran it through a lawnmower. Others preferred the more cerebral approach of blogging about its flaws. A rather popular doctor I follow on Twitter chose to mention it which goes some way to explaining why I, an Irish blogger, have taken an interest.

Prying into UK affairs is not something I typically do. That said, given SPUC's long, prolonged and uninterrupted history of interfering in Irish referendums I feel justified in offering the playground retort: they started it.

For those perhaps new to this blog a little background is in order. I work in IT, and in my spare time I do a little programming around Twitter. For this project I pulled a list of everyone who follows @spucprolife. Here's a word cloud of their Twitter biographies to get a vague impression of their typical followers. Click for larger:

Largest word is Catholic, then Christian, then Conservative, then pro life

I'm sure none are shocked to see the result. Larger words indicates the term is more frequently used by SPUC enthusiasts to describe themselves. What other information is at our disposal? Many tweeps choose to include their location when setting up their accounts. Using this information we can estimate where most of @SPUCProLife's followers live:
USA 59%, UK 24%, Spain 3%, Canada and Ireland 2%
It seems odd for a UK based group to be unable to muster a full quarter of their followers from the UK, and I'm sure others share my curiosity about this 59% of Americans who are so enthusiastic about denying equal marriage and abortion rights to British citizens.

But how can we find out more about these folk? Eschewing human interaction I turn once more to technology. I identified all their followers that follow fewer than 500 twitter accounts. This gave me 1,593 accounts and I checked each one to see what accounts other than @SPUCProLife they followed. Using the resulting information I was able to see which accounts were popular with the group. (This is all automated I hasten to add.)

Some interesting titbits:


The most popular politicians (in order) were Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, Paul Ryan's second account, Barack Obama, Karl Rove, and, finally, @Number10Gov. It is telling that the first UK politician entry comes so low on the scale, engendering curiosity among fewer than 8.5% of @SPUCProLife's followers - a little more than half the total achieved by Rick Santorum and a tie with the group @CreationTips. To put it another way, if you follow @SPUCProLife you're as likely to have an interest in UK politics as you are to believe the earth is under 10 thousand years old.


In this land that gave us cricket, soccer, tennis, rugby, cycling, boxing and darts, which sports personality proves most popular?

It is of course famed Christian quarterback for the New York Jets Tim Tebow.


Where do these folk get their news? The Guardian, Telegraph and Times are noted by their absences. The most popular media account followed was @FoxNews, many of its anchors also making an appearance among the results. BBC Breaking News managed a good showing, getting 15%, but we should remember that the US based and get 43% and 38% respectively.

The Top 20

Below are the twenty most popular accounts with followers of @SPUCProLife. They're presented in order. It's interesting to note that none are UK based. I find myself wondering what their connections are with Republican groups in the USA and if their popularity in the UK is perhaps a mite overestimated.
  1. Pontifex (Pope Francis)
  2. StevenErtelt (Steven Ertelt)
  3. LifeSite (LifeSiteNews.Com)
  4. frfrankpavone (Frank Pavone)
  5. LilaGraceRose (Lila Rose)
  6. HumanLifeIntnl (Human Life Intnl)
  7. cnalive (Catholic News Agency)
  8. ProLifeBlogs (ProLifeBlogs)
  9. LiveActionFilms (Live Action)
  10. nrlc (Right to Life)
  11. news_va_en (Vatican - news)
  12. EWTN (EWTN)
  13. prolifecampaign (Pro Life Campaign )
  14. AbbyJohnson (Abby Johnson)
  15. JillStanek (Jill Stanek)
  16. AmerLifeLeague (American Life League)
  17. ProLifeStuff (ProLifeStuff)
  18. 40daysforlife (40 Days for Life)
  19. CardinalDolan (Cardinal Dolan)
  20. Students4LifeHQ (Students for Life )
Questions welcome. You may be interested to know that supposedly Irish Pro Life groups Pro Life Campaign and Youth Defence are also majority backed by US Republicans. The Twitter stats of UK based anti marriage equality group Coalition for Marriage may also tickle your fancy.

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