PEJ New Media Index: Aliens Overtake the Social Media Agenda

  • May 06, 2010

"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans."

That was the warning issued by renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking as part of his new Discovery Channel television series in which he cautions humans against making contact with aliens. Hawking's remarks triggered a lively conversation in both the blogosphere and on Twitter last week-ranking in the top five storylines for each despite virtually no attention in the traditional media.

The No.1 subject in the blogosphere was the controversial immigration law recently passed in Arizona. For the week of April 26-30, 22% of the news links on blogs were about the controversy according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Bloggers argued passionately over the merits of the bill with most of the conversation focused on dueling Washington Post columns.

However, the debate over aliens was the only news item to receive significant attention on both blogs and Twitter, capturing the imagination of social media users. The story was the third largest on blogs last week, with 16% of the links, and the fourth largest on Twitter, at 6%-the only top Twitter subject that wasn't technology related.

Read the full report Aliens Overtake the Social Media Agenda on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.