These Are The 23 Most Viral British Politics Stories In 2018

    Three words: Baby. Trump. Blimp.

    Jack Taylor / AFP / Getty Images

    Nothing gets people worked up like a visit from Donald Trump.

    In a year when Westminster was almost totally consumed by Brexit, it wasn't cabinet resignations, the meltdown in the Conservative party, or even a leadership challenge against Theresa May that generated the most discussion on social media, according to an analysis of the most shared politics-related stories by BuzzFeed News.

    Protesters flying a 6-metre-high blimp depicting Trump as a giant baby was the most viral story about British politics this year, according to data from BuzzSumo, a company that tracks sharing on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

    Reports about the blimp protesting the US president's visit to the UK in July took the top two places in a list of the 100 most shared stories about British politics in 2018, the analysis shows. The list consists mainly of news articles, but there were also several parliamentary petitions that reached massive audiences.

    Also prominent in this year's ranking of the most viral stories are reports by the Observer and Channel 4 about Cambridge Analytica's use of Facebook data, illustrating the public's growing concern about the power of big American technology companies. Media articles about Boris Johnson's controversial comments about the burka — for which he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Conservative party earlier this month — were also circulated widely.

    Overall, though, the discussion on social platforms about British politics this year was overwhelmingly dominated by Brexit, the data shows. About half of the top 100 most viral stories related to the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. As BuzzFeed News reported earlier this month, this online discussion appears to be mainly opposed to Brexit: Very few articles that portray leaving the EU in a positive light appear to have gone viral.

    The dominance of Brexit is a change from previous years, when concerns about domestic policy issues — and specifically the Conservatives' handling of them — were more prevalent. Last year, for example, by far the most viral single article was a report on the Independent site claiming that the Tories voted that animals can't feel pain, which received nearly 1.2 million shares. There were no viral stories of that magnitude to blindside the party's leadership this year.

    Social media remains, by and large, hostile to the UK's ruling party, however, despite the Tories' attempts to improve its image on Facebook and Twitter. In a highly fragmented and partisan landscape, the left is still winning the battle for attention. It's just that the discussion is now framed around Brexit rather than domestic policy.

    Here are the top 23 most shared articles about British politics in 2018:

    1.

    Sky News

    This report from Sky News got 409,437 shares.

    2.

    BBC

    This BBC story was shared 360,906 times.

    3.

    BBC

    There were 297,166 shares for this Brexit story.

    4.

    The Observer

    This piece from the Observer's investigation got 291,928 shares.

    5.

    The Observer

    A second story from the Observer's Cambridge Analytica Files got 282,168 shares.

    6.

    The Guardian

    A Guardian report of Boris Johnson's resignation got 236,316 shares.

    7.

    UK parliament

    This petition on the Parliament website got 236,275 shares.

    8.

    People's Vote

    This post on the People's Vote website got 233,343 shares.

    9.

    People's Vote

    Also from the People's Vote website was this post with 217,907 shares.

    10.

    BBC

    More in the case of Boris Johnson vs. Theresa May was shared 202,610 times from the BBC.

    11.

    UK parliament

    Another parliamentary petition went viral with 187,621 shares.

    12.

    The Independent

    This report from the Independent was shared 181,928 times.

    13.

    Metro

    It's Boris again! This report from the Metro was shared 174,937 times.

    14.

    BBC

    This tense moment for the PM was shared 163,253 times from the BBC website.

    15.

    Channel 4 News / YouTube

    Channel 4's investigation into Cambridge Analytica was shared 157,223 times via YouTube.

    16.

    UK parliament

    These petitions are so viral: 154,977 shares.

    17.

    UK parliament

    Following the Windrush scandal, this petition on the Parliament website was shared 150,049 times.

    18.

    The Independent

    Another report from the Independent went viral with 142,729 shares.

    19.

    UK parliament

    There's still a lot of public support to abolish the House of Lords, apparently. This petition was shared 139,087 times.

    20.

    BBC

    This BBC report got 131,395 shares.

    21.

    BBC

    Coverage of the People's Vote march got 128,508 shares.

    22.

    Pride's Purge

    A political blog called Pride's Purge got 128,113 shares for a report on grouse shooting.

    23.

    RT

    And, finally, this story from RT was shared 123,576 times.










    Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alex Spence at alex.spence@buzzfeed.com.

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