On March 8th, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared while en-route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Search and rescue efforts are currently ongoing.

We started tracking the hashtag #MH370, #Pray4MH370 and many other related hashtags on Twitter since March 9th (Day 2 of the search), 3pm onwards.

By 3pm on March 12th (Day 5) we had collected over 1 million tweets from 360 thousand users. From this we prepared a list of the Top 100 Popular Tweets. Ranking was based on the number of users who shared the content on Twitter, not retweets.

The list was populated almost entirely by messages of prayer, hope, sorrow and gratitude towards the search and rescue teams.

Noticeably absent from the list was:

  1. information on the search and rescue progress
  2. criticism of the search efforts
  3. deliberate misinformation on search efforts
  4. conspiracy theories
  5. criticism of BN leaders, the media and PR leaders (for remarks made)

The only form of criticism started at No.97, with the following tweet directed at efforts by bomoh (shamans) at KLIA to find the plane:

There was also one popular tweet scolding another user for tagging a ‘selfie’ with the #Pray4MH370 tag, an obvious attention grabber. However we have chosen not to show the tweet here to avoid encouraging more attacks against this person.

While it is true that many Malaysians tweeted about the absent topics stated above, their messages did not spread far enough to make the list. This is an indication of the kind of content that users prefer to spread on Twitter during a time of crisis.

Tweets came mainly from Malaysia, though there was a high concentration of tweets from Bangkok. The areas users tweeted from can be seen in the three heatmaps below:

MH370 Tweets 2014-03-12 local map

MH370 Tweets 2014-03-12 thai map


MH370 Tweets 2014-03-12 global map
The shaded area indicates where users tweeted from, with a scale from green (few) to yellow then red (many). Area coverage per-tweet was expanded in the world map to make the shading more visible.

Due to time constraints and technical issues with embedded tweets, we can only share the Top 25 tweets from the list.

Top 25 Most Popular Tweets About #MH370

Published On: March 13th, 2014 / Categories: Social Media / Tags: , , , , , /