The debate over NFL players kneeling during the U.S. national anthem has emerged as the latest proxy battle in America’s ongoing culture wars.
President Donald Trump’s Twitter attack on the league’s protesting players, and then his call for his supporters to stay away from NFL games, fuelled a barrage of #BoycottNFL tweets over the weekend. Meanwhile as players responded to Trump’s threats by kneeling en masse, supporters of the protest responded with the hashtag #TakeAKnee.
We asked Keyhole, a Toronto-based social media analytics company, to compare the traffic on the two hashtags. It’s clear which side dominated the conversation on Twitter.
Over the course of the weekend and until Tuesday afternoon, #TakeAKnee showed up in nearly 2.2 million unique tweets. At the highest point on Sunday, between noon and 6 p.m., the hashtag appeared in nearly 70,000 unique tweets. By comparison #BoycottNFL had been used in just over 390,000 unique tweets. That hashtag saw its biggest uptake on Sunday, corresponding with Trump’s suggestion that fans refuse to attend games unless protesting players were fired or suspended.
Here are three of the most popular #TakeAKnee tweets from the time period, according to Keyhole:
If peaceful protests did nothing, the powerful wouldn't try so hard to silence them. #TakeAKnee pic.twitter.com/0aONI66gJF
— NYCLU (@NYCLU) September 23, 2017
L: "Very fine people"
R: "Sons of bitches"#TakeAKnee pic.twitter.com/GOwZmzo8CF
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 23, 2017
The young people kneeling today are following a long tradition. #TakeAKnee #goodtrouble pic.twitter.com/kxZDMfrGF5
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) September 25, 2017
And three of the most popular #BoycottNFL tweets:
"Hero" of the @NFL wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs. #BoycottNFL pic.twitter.com/KaoRhL2Kck
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 25, 2017
#TakeTheKnee ?! #BoyCottNFL Call you Local Cable Or Satellite Provider and Cancel Your Sports Package https://t.co/UZCq71kDcP
— Peter Boykin (@peterboykin) September 25, 2017
My message to NFL. #BoycottNFL pic.twitter.com/byQX7p45cz
— Mark S (@crazd70) September 24, 2017
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