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React: Investigating a Year of UFO Sightings Posted on Social Media Topic Analysis

By Gemma Joyce on May 10th 2016

Do you believe in aliens?

You might not, but lots of people seem to think they’ve seen the evidence.

We took a look at a year’s worth of UFO-related posts on social media and this is what we found.

Where are the aliens?

We broke down mentions by state to see which areas of the country were generating the most UFO conversation.

While California often gets the most mentions because of its large population, it’s not just down to that this time.

A huge chunk of Californian UFO sightings occurred on 7th November when a mysterious light was seen by hundreds of people. It was later confirmed as a Naval missile test but not everyone was convinced.


The sightings definitely helped November become the month with the most UFO posts on social media

UFO sightings

In fact, this one night dwarfed any other significant peak in mentions for the whole year.

UFO year mentions


Who you gonna call?

Looking at mentions coming just from Twitter, we’re able to see the accounts mentioned most alongside UFO sightings.

Predictably, @nasa was at the top of the list.


But lots of tweeters decided to take matters higher. @POTUS registered at number 6.


There are also Twitter authors dedicated to tweeting about UFO sightings.

@UFO_Research, @ufo_stalker and @daufoguy are good examples of prolific UFO reporting Twitter accounts.


Extra terrestrial social networks

We found the majority of our UFO mentions on Twitter – 3,459 to be precise, while Facebook made up 906 mentions.

In some cases, people described what they saw and others posted blurry images and videos like this one:


We found that the gender ratio of UFO-related posts was fairly evenly split.

Gender breakdown

While they registered just a few posts each, percentage-wise it was Delaware and Connecticut that had the most UFO mentions from males while Hawaii and South Carolina had the most from females.


Shrouded in secrecy

We found a surprisingly low number of mentions that included the term “Area 51”. Perhaps that’s something we should be concerned about.

Charmaine isn’t alone in taking her confusion and anger to social media.

Amid all of the UFO conversation, we found 421 mentions of aliens ranging from speculation to full on accounts of seeing them.

Whatever you think of UFOs and aliens, tracking social data surrounding them is a good way to crowdsource personal experiences of eerie occurrences in real time.

Want more juicy data? Follow @BW_React

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Gemma Joyce


Gemma is the social data journalist heading up Brandwatch React. As well as being first with pop culture news, Gemma loves pizza, politics, and Angry Birds.

  • Benice Alway

    “You might not, but lots of people seem to think they’ve seen the evidence.”
    The evidence is not just from videos.
    We have thousands of declassified documented cases with physical trace cases, radar cases, multiple high military personal acknowledging the phenomena or talking about it openly, take John Podesta for example, he was the chief of staff for Bill Clinton, the counselor for Obama and is now the chairman for hillary.

  • Benice Alway

    The John Podesta testimonies

  • Gemma Joyce

    Hi Benice,
    Thanks for commenting. I’m definitely not suggesting there isn’t some compelling evidence out there, just that many people are skeptical.
    Social media is a great way to see people posting eye witness accounts and potential evidence in real time, so definitely something to keep an eye on.

  • James120756 .

    After recently experiencing my own sighting, I understand why people don’t report most sightings. I posted the details on MUFON and the entire story showed up on some small website the very next day, written like they had first hand knowledge. I’m very glad I didn’t post the pictures. MUFON never did investigate.