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#MillionPeopleMarch: Online and offline success

Dominic Gabriel Go
The Philippines's first social media organized protest got over 140,000 social media mentions and 80 to 100 thousand protesters on the ground.

The Rappler map of the online communities behind #MillionPeopleMarch. Social Network Map by Russell Shepherd

A success. The only way to describe the Philippines’ first social media organized protest.

As of 8pm August 26, there were more than 140,000 social media mentions about the August 26 movement, with online mentions peaking from 10am to 11am getting as many as 5 tweets per second.

On the ground, police estimated 80,000 to 100,000 protesters attended the Luneta rally.

A growing collective anger seemed to have pressured President Benigno Aquino III to announce an overhaul of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), August 23, days before the protest itself. The President earlier maintained he wanted to keep the PDAF.

National figures also attended the rally against pork barrel. Cardinal Tagle joined thousands at Luneta park and challenged Filipinos to show that we are a country of heroes and a people of Integrity. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, convicted last year for unexplained wealth, also attended the rally but left after he was booed by protesters.

After the protests, senators released statements acknowleding the legitimacy of protesters’ call to abolish lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

Evolution of the hashtag

Social media activity started 9 days ago, August 17, a day after the Commission on Audit (COA) released a special report on the Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009.

Friends Arnold Pedrigal, Peachy Bretana, and Bernardo Bernardo, created a Facebook event page to gather people who wanted the PDAF scrapped. They said they wanted a “massive pocket picnic” and to bring one million people at the Luneta Park. The #MillionPeopleMarch surfaced by August 18 and immediately dominated Twitter.

By August 19, Lawyer Ana Santos, who uses the Twitter handle @MrsUnlawyer, added interest by starting the #PDAFKalampag movement – when she asked her social networks to flood a different lawmaker or a government agency each day with calls and tweets. The movement was successful enough to get a tweet from Senate President Franklin Drilon.

#PDAFKalampag was the dominant hashtag until August 21 when news outlets picked up the Million People March Facebook event. By August 22, #MillionPeopleMarch was the default hashtag and brand of the August 26 protests.

On August 23, President Aquino announced that an overhauled pork barrel system, designed to be more transparent, will replace the PDAF system. It seemed it was too little too late.  Social media exploded.

After the statement, the #ScrapPork became the most mentioned hashtag, with news groups and online celebrities also picking it up on social media. From August 23 onwards, the hashtags #MillionPeopleMarch and #ScrapPork came as a pair.

Viral

Mentions about the August 26 movement took 7 days, from August 17 to 25 to get to 10,000 mentions. From August 26 onwards, mentions grew exponentially.

The next 10,000 mentions only took 9 hours from August 25 11pm to August 26 8am. By 9am, the next 10,000 mention increments only took less than an hour.

There were 32,616 mentions at 9am, 44,382 mentions at 10am, and 62,288 mentions at 11am. From 10am to 11am there were 17,895 social media mentions recorded with 17,668 coming for twitter. That’s almost 5 tweets per second.

This is what 5 tweets per second looks if you’re monitoring on Tweetdeck:

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