Political leaders have nowhere to hide in the age of social media. Public ridicule may have been limited to word on the street, an opinion piece or a weekly political cartoon, but now it's relentless 24-hour posts online that can ultimately impact a leader's public perception. As part of the Design Museum's new exhibition examining political graphic design over a decade, a range of graphics created by audience intelligence platform Pulsar reveal unflattering truths about what people really think of five major world leaders.
UK prime minister Theresa May, Russia president Vladimir Putin, president of France Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro have been scrutinised through Pulsar’s digital profiles, or what they label 'data portraits', which visualise key words from public discourse surrounding the leaders on Twitter taken from the past year, ranging from their policy decisions to personality traits.
As you can see here, although Theresa May aims to create a strong but stable public perception as she tackles Brexit, Pulsar’s data portrait reveals that public opinion largely describes her as weak, soft and without ability to lead negotiations. Click on the image to see it in more detail.
Although Vladimir Putin was re-elected by his own people, conversation outside of the Russian regime states he may have been re-elected out of fear rather than respect. Nicolás Maduro is regularly referred to as a dictator within Venezuela, and Angela Merkel is perceived to have lost control in Germany. Although it's often those who are unhappy who are the most vocal online.
To track unfiltered, global and public conversations about these leaders on Twitter, Pulsar used five global keyword trackers from March 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018 to collect Twitter posts containing references to the political leaders. No country or language limitations were applied, so a range of conversations occurring around their leadership both domestically and abroad could be collected. Twitter is a client of Pulsar.
The resulting digital profiles have been described by Pulsar as "overwhelmingly unflattering portraits". These can be seen in physical form as part of the Design Museum's 'Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18', which focuses on how social media has transformed traditional political protest and the liberal way we idolise and demonise public leaders online. The exhibition runs until August 12.
"The study draws a brutal picture of our times and our leaders, one that can't easily be painted over. It’s time politicians take note of this shift and go back to the drawing board when to comes to crafting their public image," says co-founder of Pulsar, Francesco D’Orazio.
Also as part of Pulsar’s contribution to 'Hope to Nope', visitors will be able to explore 24 hours of social media conversations about Donald Trump in an installation which shows every public conversation about Donald Trump during an average day, taken from February 23, 2018.
Pulsar combines conversational and behavioural data from the web, with proprietary artificial intelligence to help public and private organisations understand audiences. Its clients include Twitter, Netflix, Spotify and Samsung.