Saturday, February 13, 2016

Corporate social-media engines track Occupy activists

"Workers against the rich... man, you are playing with gasoline'

Corporate social-media engines track Occupy activists


Corporations who grab marketing data from Twitter, Facebook and other social media posts are curious about who's behind the Occupy Wall Street protests and the mobilizers of spin-off demonstrations in Boston, San Francisco, and (maybe) Philadelphia.

Here's how it looks to one veteran data miner: "We've been watching it for three weeks. Over the weekend, with the arrests in New York, it's really taking off," he told me. "The volumes have increased 20X, 30X. There are millions of communications."

What's the message? "Politics this year, it's going to be the workers against the rich."

Who's behind it? Legacy socialists? College-town anarchists? Professors? The Democrats? "I don't know if the Democrats are involved. I have no evidence of that. It really looks like labor," he told me. "We're picking up that there's staff guys from the Transport Workers' Union in New York, and people close to (Rich) Trumka," the United Mine Workers president who heads the Change to Win union federation. 

Does that mean unions are behind the demonstrations - or just fellow-traveling with people they can send against their class enemies? "Unions, it's in their best interest to have someone else carry the banner." he told me. "This isn't really aimed at Wall Street so much. It's aimed at corporations."
So who's Occupying? "It's this generation of people who've been graduating since '08 and don't have jobs," he told me. "They are having a tough time because the economy's been bad. They don't know what they want to do about it really. You get a beautiful girl in a Harvard T-shirt, she's saying 'education should be free, we want our student loans paid.'

"And then you have these activists who have learned to do social media. And some people mixed in who remember the 60s. And you have a tremedously heated rhetoric. And you have people who may do irrational things. There is the potential for bricks in windows. Man, you are playing with gasoline."

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About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at and his Inquirer columns at Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

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