The Internet’s insatiable appetite for outrage can manifest itself in strange and powerful ways. This week’s example: The controversy surrounding the death of Cecil the Lion.
In case you were in a coma and missed it: Over the last 48 hours, the Internet has blown up over the story of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who slaughters wild animals for fun, and Cecil, the beloved 13-year-old lion who became his latest victim.
With the help of two local guides, Palmer lured Cecil out of his protected habitat in Zimbabwe, shot him with an arrow, and ultimately killed him. Unbeknownst to Palmer or his guides, Cecil had a tracking device on his neck, placed there by Oxford University researchers.
Needless to say, once that story hit the Internet, the outrage went into overdrive. Here’s what it looked like on Twitter yesterday:
Created by CartoDB, a free Web-based data visualization tool, this map shows how many people tweeted using the hashtag #cecilthelion, around the globe, for a seven-hour period yesterday afternoon.
Those things that look like thermonuclear explosions are public tweets emanating from Android and Apple mobile devices, sorted by geographic location.
The “lightning” effect — where the tweets appear to burst — show a high volume of tweets concentrated in a relatively small geographic area, says Santiago Giraldo, civic technologist for CartoDB. Zoom in close enough, though, and you can get to the location of each individual tweet. (Note: This might take a while.)
At our request, CartoDB collected the data from Twitter, applied filters for type of device and its location, then applied a time-lapse effect to compress seven hours of outrage into approximately one minute.
The moral of this story: Whatever you do, you don’t want to make the Internet mad. You might also want to consider a less violent hobby. Just sayin’.