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Online Trends

Published March 30th 2017

Article 50 Is Triggered, And So Is Social Media. We Have The Data

The Brandwatch React team dives into the data surrounding Article 50, finding hundreds of thousands of mentions, intense division, and some funny videos.

Article 50 has been triggered. The UK is leaving the EU. Social media has, predictably, exploded.

While the actual action of triggering Article 50 lacked the finesse and drama the phrase connotes (no big red buttons, just a man delivering a letter to another man), there was no lack of fanfare on social surrounding the historic event.

The Brandwatch React team did what it does best and jumped into the social data.

Top line

We estimate around 250k Article 50 related mentions were posted across social media on the day (based on a 20% sample of mentions).

Analysis of gender-categorized authors revealed that 61% were male and 39% female. We’ve found that within political data male authors are generally more vocal on social.

#Article50, #Brexit, and #BrexitDay were among the top hashtags, with #ThatLettersNoMine also making an appearance on the list.

Division continues

The EU Referendum was an incredibly divisive time, and the triggering of Article 50 has seen a similar reaction. Joyful celebration, commiseration, and humor were all key parts of the conversation. The topic cloud features some of the top words and phrases.

Let’s explore some of the key topics:

“Fooled by a bus”

This topics comes from a tweet from @a_leesha1 and refers to the infamous leave campaign tour bus that sported the phrase “we send the EU £350 Million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead”.

We’ve previously discussed how the £350m claim was a well-recalled ‘fact’ in the lead-up to the EU Referendum, though the actual figure was arguably exaggerated. The idea that the nation was fooled by a bus is a little hyperbolic (though amusing), however this message ties into a wider trend of leave-voters being represented as uneducated or easily-fooled (and worse). The conversation certainly isn’t all as light-hearted as this.

“Impossible dream”

Nigel Farage’s celebratory tweet was widely shared yesterday, as he called the triggering of Article 50 “the impossible dream”.

Farage, a driving force behind leaving the EU, was one of the top-mentioned Twitter accounts in the Brexit conversation yesterday.


There was no single tweet behind the prominence of the word “Scotland” in the Article 50 data, though this one certainly boosted it.

As if the divisive conversation surrounding Brexit wasn’t dramatic enough, Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom is the subject of intense debate. Leaving the EU was not a popular choice for lots of Scottish people, and another referendum on Scottish Independence is being pushed by many.


Well, that one speaks for itself.

Prominent images

We took a look at the top-shared images on Twitter to see what visuals would commemorate the historic day. Enjoy this selection from the top 10.


A year of Brexit data

We’ve now been covering Brexit social data for around a year, and it’s been a long journey. Here are some of the most read pieces of analysis:

Or you can see a summary of our Brexit data in our latest Facebook Live video.

With Article 50 kicking off what is likely to be years’ worth of painstaking negotiations, the Brexit story (and the data) continues.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email us at [email protected] for more information

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