Twitter Shows Why Ed Schultz is Moving Back to Weekday Primetime


Yesterday, MSNBC announced that they were moving Ed Schultz’s The Ed Show back from its weekend exile to the 5pm weekday slot.  The announcement took a lot of people by surprise, although the motivation for it has been known for a long time: the show that took Ed’s old 8pm M-F slot has been struggling in the ratings. MSNBC had made a classic media move — replacing an older anchor with a fresh face — but this time it didn’t work out as planned.

Fortunately for Ed, his fans moved with him to his weekend slots.  Almost immediately he was more popular on Twitter than the other MSNBC weekend shows.  That fan base is who’s carrying Ed back to primetime.

Continue reading

DoS Twitter Spam in MSNBC’s Education Nation Student Town Hall #EdNatSTH

Well, after writing in my previous post that Twitter spam always includes URLs, I was proven almost immediately wrong during MSNBC’s Education Nation Student Town Hall hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry.  In the middle of the show, approximately 1140 tweets like these flew by:

Click to enlarge

Note: If you don’t like seeing spam in your Twitter feed, please give my free Social TV Twitter client at a try! It will catch these kinds of spam tweets, so even if Twitter’s getting deluged you’ll be sheltered from them.

Mind you, that wasn’t the only spam during the show.  The “normal” spam that tries to get you to click on the spammer’s URL was omnipresent throughout the show.  But this was different: it was severely disruptive and totally pointless: it aimed to kill the conversation on the hashtag altogether.

How was this spam done? All of these tweets were sent using the service.  It’s a tool that allows you to automate sending tweets based upon data you feed it. Virtually no other non-spam tweets were sent with these service.  Interestingly, is often used in “Silencing” attacks, where a huge number of critical tweets are sent to a person to try to chase them off twitter. (See this as an example).

Why was it done? That’s hard to say.  Maybe it was a misconfiguration of spam program that ended up with garbage messages.  If so, the person doing the configuration is horribly inept.  All their twitter accounts were sending the same set of messages to a variety of feeds, and all of the messages are garbage:

Notice the same spam accounts hit Up with Chris Hayes (#uppers) earlier this morning.

Is this a deliberate attempt to undermine the MHP Show?  That seems not to be the case, insofar as the spam tweets seem only focused on trending topics.  When the Education Nation Student Town Hall #EdNatSTH hashtag was trending, this attack was launched.

Is this a deliberate attempt to perform a “Denial of Service” attack against trending topics (by flooding them with tweets, it basically kills the conversation)?  That seems to be the goal.  It is basically just behaving badly for the sake of behaving badly. 

Could you just block the user and report them for spam and be done with it? Not really — so many fake accounts were used that it would be like whack-a-mole with a hyperactive mole.

One thing is for sure: Twitter should shut down the service immediately until it can better control the spam its users generate.  And Twitter should shut down these spam accounts: there are 1140 fake accounts out there that have spammed hundreds of times each and are continuing to spam as of this (9/23) evening.  Why doesn’t Twitter do anything?  They can’t expect people to return each and every one of the 1140 accounts.  We’re on the cusp of a breakdown in Twitter if they don’t do something.

One more plug: If you don’t like seeing spam in your Twitter feed, please give my free Social TV Twitter client at a try! It’s spam free  🙂 and ad free. It’s your best defense against these spam attacks for now.

Putting MSNBC’s “The Cycle” through the Twitter Rinse

This week saw the debut of the replacement for The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, The Cycle. And what a newsy week it was to start!  So how did the gang of four do on Twitter?

Compare the daily Twitter mentions for The Cycle to how Dylan Ratigan did, on average, for the last seven weeks he was on the air:

Not bad — it’s a nice boost in activity.  The Cycle’s team has definitely engaged with their audience on Twitter.

Continue reading

Watching Twitter Watch the Melissa Harris-Perry Show

[Note: Since this post was published, I’ve done a more recent analysis of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show’s Twitter engagement.  You can see it here]

One of the great additions to MSNBC’s line up is the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on weekend mornings, airing from 10am to noon Saturday and Sunday.  And one thing that makes it great is the way the MHP show has engaged its audience via Twitter, even going so far as to invent their own hashtag, #nerdland (One day I’ll find out if this is a pun on Birdland).

So while everyone was watching MHP, I was watching twitter … and as you’d expect, there was a spike in activity as the show was underway:

Twitter Activity during the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC

Click to see larger chart

New tweets are in blue, and re-tweets are in red; over the course of the 48 hours of Saturday and Sunday, about 38% of the tweets were retweets.

You can clearly see the activity building up right before the start of the show, but quickly dwindling afterwards.  Since I included @mharrisperry references in my count, the residual activity is a combination of show related tweets and tweets to/from Melissa herself.

Re-tweets are a great way to find topics that are starting to resonate with the audience — a retweet is a vote up, and as retweets become popular it gives us all a sense of what the community thinks is interesting or important.  Here are the top 10 retweets over the weekend (with the number of retweets for each):

108 RT @MHPshow: #TrayvonMartin’s mother is now on Twitter. You can follow her at @SybrinaFulton.
47 RT @keithboykin: @MHPshow made a compelling point about Obama’s birth certificate & #Trayvon’s shooting. As blacks, we always have to prove we belong here.
47 RT @majorzman: White men in multi-$1000 suits brought this country to its knees. And we are afraid of young men in hoodies? #nerdland @MHPshow
41 RT @chrislhayes: If you’re watching @MHPShow and enjoying it, take a second to send an email or text or FB message to someone else you know who would like it
39 RT @MHarrisPerry: This morning @MHPShow takes on serious issues of Affordable Care Act, GOP race & Trayvon Martin. On lighter side- Mad Men. #nerdland 10AM ET
36 RT @MHPshow: Melissa’s conversation today with three young men about what it’s like to grow up black in America right now: #nerdland
33 RT @MHPshow: James Baldwin was just quoted on the show. Here is the author being interviewed in Miami about race in 1963: #nerdland
30 RT @MHPshow: Now in #nerdland: Melissa talks to three black young men about growing up in today’s America. They’re joined by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu.
29 RT @MHPshow: “White folks are sometimes looking for the slur; this is a pattern of institutional neglect,” said @timjacobwise. #TrayvonMartin #nerdland
29 RT @MHPshow: “It’s always on the side of people of color to fix something,” @AntheaButler said. #TrayvonMartin #nerdland

It’s interesting that so many of the retweets are from the show itself.  But it is also interesting that these tweets represent a small fraction of the roughly 2500 retweets that took place — so it’s clear that no avalanche took place (for an example of a retweet avalanche, see my article on when the Trayvon Martin story caught fire on Twitter).

Not surprisingly, the show was the most frequently mentioned twitter id in the tweets:

Viewers are clearly very engaged with what’s going on in the show.  Similarly for hashtag usage:

Hashtags used during the MHP show

Click for larger version

Almost everyone managed to include the #nerdland tag.

What I find most insightful, however, is the list of most frequently used words in the tweets (with stop words — the, and, etc. — removed).  This really gives you a flavor of the discussion going on:

I picked the top 30 words, but clearly the list goes on from there.  If you hadn’t seen any of the show, you could guess by looking at Twitter that the topics included something about “young black men”…

So what to make of all this? First, there’s a vibrant community of Twitter users who engage during the MHP Show, even if they disperse back to other Twitter communities when the show is not on.  Second, the community is carrying on an extended conversation about the topics being discussed.  Since the show itself is a discussion the majority of the time, it’s like an inner circle of conversation on the show and an outer circle of the same conversation on Twitter.  It would be an interesting dynamic to have a mixing of the conversations between those two circles as the show goes on….

I’ll try to come back to the MHP show in a few months and compare the Twitter communities to get a sense of the growth and change that has taken place.


I used all Tweets from 00:00 am Saturday until 11:59 pm Sunday that had either @mhpshow, #nerdland, or @mharrisperry in the tweet.