While the shooting of Michael Brown and the police response has implications for law enforcement throughout the nation, the impact of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, this week can be measured on a global scale.
Twitter compiled every geotagged tweet that mentioned Ferguson and plugged them all into one map. What begins as an area tragedy in the Midwest on Aug. 9 evolves into a national news story by Aug. 11. If the blips are any indication, Ferguson was a trending topic in North America and Europe for most of the week, and a topic of conversation across every continent on the planet.
I could be reading too much into the map function, but it appears that the arrests of the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly and The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery on Aug. 13 pushed the story into the stratosphere. Judging by the procession of the progress bar, it’s late-ish into Aug. 13 when Twitter goes nuclear, right around the time that the two reporters were arrested.
Needless to say, there’s nothing to be proud of here. Michael Brown’s death, and the events that have followed, brings shame to the nation. It may be the fact that the United States so consistently fails to live up to its lofty ideals about justice and freedom when it comes to its African American population that makes it a story that’s compelling across the world.
If there is a bright side to the global appeal of this story, it’s the fact that analysts and international observers are weighing in with fascinating perspectives—even analysis on what #Ferguson means to Twitter itself.