How the murder of a Russian official went massively viral on Facebook?

Written by Kamil Arli

If you have an iconic image on your hands, forget the front page: You’re posting it on Facebook.

That’s exactly what the Associated Press did Monday, shortly after the assassination of Andrey G. Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey. A young man shot the official to death at an art exhibit in Ankara, and the AP’s Burhan Ozbilici captured the entire violent incident.

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Less than two hours after the news broke, the AP’s official account for images on Facebook shared a photograph of the gunman, arm raised in triumph, standing over Karlov’s body.

It spread rapidly, proving for the umpteenth time Facebook’s incredible influence over how we receive information. That one AP post reached nine million people just six hours after it was published, according to internal metrics shared with Mashable.

The photo, as of the publishing of this article, had been shared over 45,000 times, with 5,600 comments and 28,000 “reactions” — which refer to various uses of the Like button.

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Lauren Easton, AP’s director of media relations, told Mashable that the AP Images page had amassed more than 21,000 new followers Monday — its total currently rests at just over 331,000. (The nine million people reached by the post refers to the number of users who scrolled past the content in their Facebook feeds, perhaps because it was shared by their friends.)   

A representative for NewsWhip, a data analytics service that tracks viral content, told Mashable that the photo post had 175 times the average engagement for the AP Images page. The company provided a graph showing how quickly the photo accumulated interactions — Likes, shares, comments and clicks on Facebook. You can see that it didn’t take long to snowball:

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By every measure, the photograph is a huge viral moment for the news outlet. Thousands upon thousands of people shared it with their friends in a few short hours, even though it clearly shows the body of a man who had been shot to death by a terrorist. A gut-turning act of violence, one we wish we’d never seen, became yet another bit of shareable content, wedged between status updates and other social ephemera.

“With those shares, the photo is surfacing on the News Feed of friends of whomever shared the post,” Gabriele Boland, an analyst at NewsWhip, told Mashable. “Because of Facebook’s algorithm that favors content shared by users over publishers and brands, more people are likely to see the photo in their News Feed. Then, they too may share it out, and the cycle continues.”

Source: mashable

About the author


Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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