Initial reactions to Roe v. Wade news flood social media
Here are the most viral Facebook + Instagram posts within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s leaked abortion decision
On Monday night, we experienced a generational political shock as news broke that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, and with it, end or restrict access to abortion for millions of Americans.
Although many political groups have been crafting plans and responses for Roe’s imminent downfall for months, few were prepared for the decision to leak in this way. That said, politicians, activists, and organizations on both sides of the issue reacted to the news on social media. Here’s a breakdown of the most viral responses on Facebook and Instagram within 24 hours of it breaking:
On conservative-leaning Facebook, the top-performing post (by number of interactions) about the news came from evangelical political leader Franklin Graham, whose post led with “Praise God!”
Graham has one of the most active audiences on Facebook, and his commentary regularly outperforms all other political posts on the site.
Following Graham, the other leading posts were (2) a reaction from actor George Takei, (3) the primary article shared by POLITICO, (4) a meme from liberal activist page Occupy Democrats, and (5) a text post from progressive historian Heather Cox Richardson.
Other top-performing posts came from right-wing figures and pages cheering the decision: Benny Johnson, Lila Rose, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Breitbart. After Greene, the highest performing Facebook post from a politician came from Sen. Bernie Sanders, calling for an end to the filibuster in order to protect abortion rights.
By comparison, posts on Facebook from liberal advocacy groups and reproductive rights organizations failed to earn high amounts of engagement. This is perhaps an illustration of the state of Facebook’s algorithm in 2022 - prioritizing meme pages and clickbait accounts over established legacy brands.
On Instagram, posts about the news received exponentially higher amounts of engagement. The top-performing public post (excluding stories and reels) came from the account @feminist, which assured its followers that abortion care is still legal:
Following @feminist, the other top posts were either from breaking news accounts or in support of abortion rights. They came from (2) @mattxiv, (3) @berniesanders, (4) @nytimes, (5) @politico, (6) @impact, and (7) @theprogressivists. Considering younger Americans heavily favor abortion rights, these levels of engagement on Instagram shouldn’t be surprising.
Last December, when arguments on this case were before the court, we took a snapshot of social engagement on the issue, and found that Americans generally were disengaged on the issue on social media. If liberals are to have a fighting chance of protecting abortion access in this country, let’s hope that last night’s horrific news becomes a call to action for all of us.
Source: All data on interactions/engagement comes from Crowdtangle, searches for “Roe” and “abortion” past 24 hrs.