May 16, 2022

Research Paper: “Trump vs. Hillary: What Went Viral During the 2016 US Presidential Election” (Preprint)

The following paper will be presented at Social Informatics (Socjnfo 2017). The conference is being organized by the Oxford Internet Institute and will take place at  the U. of Oxford in September 2017.

Note: “Accepted papers will appear in Springer’s Lecture Note Series in Computer Science.”


Trump vs. Hillary: What Went Viral During the 2016 US Presidential Election


Kareem Darwish
Qatar Computing Research Institute

Walid Magdy
The University of Edinburgh

Tahar Zanouda
Qatar Computing Research Institute


via arXiv


In this paper, we present quantitative and qualitative analysis of the top retweeted tweets (viral tweets) pertaining to the US presidential elections from September 1, 2016 to Election Day on November 8, 2016. For everyday, we tagged the top 50 most retweeted tweets as supporting or attacking either candidate or as neutral/irrelevant. Then we analyzed the tweets in each class for: general trends and statistics; the most frequently used hashtags, terms, and locations; the most retweeted accounts and tweets; and the most shared news and links.

In all we analyzed the 3,450 most viral tweets that grabbed the most attention during the US election and were retweeted in total 26.3 million times accounting over 40% of the total tweet volume pertaining to the US election in the aforementioned period. Our analysis of the tweets highlights some of the differences between the social media strategies of both candidates, the penetration of their messages, and the potential effect of attacks on both

Direct to Full Text Article
16 pages; PDF. 

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.