As parts of South Africa crumbled under pressure brought on by looting and rioters, panic ensured. Malls went up in smoke, small businesses were destroyed and sadly, over 200 people lost their lives. Citizens took to the streets, defending what is theirs – something the government and defence forces (police included) failed to do. Emulating the turbulent times that gripped SA during the riots, are the Google search habits. Through Google Analytics, Charles Smith of ShaIzwe Communications illustrates how alarming search terms such as “how to make a bomb” and “molotov cocktails” popped in the week of civil unrest. Other search terms, including “gun”, “firearm” and “pepper spray” also became more prevalent in the violent week. – Jarryd Neves
Google Identified Major Search Trends During Riots – ‘Molotov Cocktails’ and ‘Make a Bomb’
By Charles Smith of ShaIzwe Communications*
With the intensity of the looting in South Africa increasing from about Monday 13th July and continuing for about a week, people took to Google to search using a number of concerning keywords such as “Molotov cocktails”, and “how to make a bomb”.
Google Trends is a free service that reports on how often a particular search term is entered into Google, relative to the total search volume over a period of time, and across geographic regions.
A Google Trend keyword will have a value of 0 if the search term or keyword has a low volume relative to previous searches, and 100 if it is trending, ie it is experiencing an increase in the average number of searches.
How to make a bomb
People began googling the phrase ‘how to make a bomb’ in early July 2021 with a second peak around Thursday 8th July, then on Monday 12th July.
Molotov cocktail trended in KZN on the 23rd April 2021 and again on Thursday 8th July
Keywords such as “self-defence guns”, “firearm”, “protest”, “Durban protest today” showed a dramatic increase in searches, which was expected.
Pepper spray showed an increase, specifically in Northwest, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Another keyword ‘buy guns’ and topics around firearms increased 350% in searches.
The topic around Firearms had a 350% increase in searches
- Charles Smith is the director of ShaIzwe Communications
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