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The hostility of Bulgarian Social Media users towards refugees is intensifying, according to a new study by Media Analysis provider Perceptica. It covers over 170,000 mentions in Mainstream and Social Media sources from January - June 2016 and builds upon a previous study from the second half of 2015.
The volume of conversation increased by 55% in the first half of 2016 compared to the second half of 2015, while the share of negative mentions increased by 13 percentage points, going from 47% to 60%.
The sharp increase in negativity became visible in the Social Media conversation after the attacks on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, and remained unchanged throughout the monitored period.
More than two-thirds (71%) of the overall conversation took place in traditional sources. Of the Social Media types, Forums were most active (16% of the overall conversation), followed by Facebook (8%), Twitter (5%) and Blogs (<1%).
Perceptica Analyst Maria Simeonova pointed to the appearance of vigilante “migrant hunters” near the Turkish border such as Dinko Valev and Petar Nizamov as one of the most discussed topics in the country. While Mainstream sources in Bulgaria and abroad generally condemned them as vigilantes, 50% of the comments in the Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Forums and Blogs) were in support of their actions, against 38% against and 12% neutral. The general opinion expressed was that the state had failed in its duty to protect the national border.
The Bulgarian government was further criticised for taking legal action against Valev and Nizamov, with 73% critical comments versus 25% neutral and only 2% positive. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, which filed official complaints against the so-called “migrant hunters”, also came under fire with 68% negative and 32% neutral mentions.
Another key topic were the EU’s negotiations with Turkey for measures to control the refugee influx. Bulgarians expressed extreme displeasure (73% negative, 24% neutral and only 3% positive comments) with the deal reached in March of 2016, claiming that former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had successfully blackmailed Europe into submission.
While for the period of July-December 2015 Social Media users were neutral toward Turkey, 57% of the comments from the first half of 2016 were negative, versus 36% neutral and 6% positive mentions. The EU under the unofficial leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was only slightly less unpopular (53% negative, 40% neutral and 7% positive comments). Dislike towards the USA was even more pronounced, with 63% critical comments.
As in the previous period, a clear distinction could be drawn between the opinions expressed by users of different Social Media platforms. While Forum and Facebook users mostly approved of the volunteer patrols guarding the Bulgarian-Turkish border (67% and 69% positive comments, respectively), 66% of the people on Twitter were expressly against them.
A similar trend could be observed with regards to the refugees themselves, with Facebook and Forum users expressing negativity, while comments on Twitter were predominantly neutral. The www.bg-mamma.com Forum was especially active, with 71% of comments being negative towards refugees, compared to 20% neutral and 9% positive.
Perceptica is a leading Media Analysis provider, part of the global information services company A Data Pro (http://www.aiidatapro.com). Perceptica offers analysis in all European and many world languages on a wide variety of topics, including economics, sociology, telecommunications, health services and consumer goods. From January 2016, Perceptica added Employer Branding to the list of its services.
For more information, please contact:
Georgi Auad, Director Perceptica
Tel.: +359 897 814 142