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28 September 2018

How Trump’s remark about Africa affected public sentiment

Sentiment study to measure the impact of Trump’s negative comments towards Africa.

In January 2018, at a closed-door White House meeting, President Trump reportedly characterised some African nations as “shithole countries”. Trump denied the remark but the news sparked millions of impassioned comments on Twitter.

BrandsEye partnered with the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Centre, providing them with accurate opinion data to help them understand Americans’ response to the President’s remarks.

The incident was of particular interest to Norman Lear Centre’s Africa Initiative, a project focused on fostering greater public knowledge and understanding of the African continent through research and campaigns. For this research BrandsEye’s Crowd of human verifiers evaluated over 45 000 tweets between 4 – 23 January 2018.

The research found Trump’s shithole remarks, sparked a substantial 66% increase in negative tweets about President Trump and an increase of over 3000% in the volume of mentions of Africa. Despite the increased mentions of Africa, there was no indication of a shift in American sentiment towards Africans or the continent, much of the conversation pertained to partisan politics in the US. The Norman Lear Centre concluded that “substantive discussion about Africa was largely absent.” And suggested that, it was “a largely missed opportunity by Americans to counter the disparaging remark with information spotlighting the success, diversity and opportunities within Africa”.