All of the fucks given in 2016

Paul Stollery
Dec 29, 2016 · 4 min read

The field of fucks was far from barren in 2016. In fact, just shy of a billion fucks were given across social media the news this year.

It was, for lack of a better phrase, a very shitty year. For a start, most of the awesome people died. Things continued to go from bad to worse in Syria. Zika spread across the Americas. And Britain did the stupidest thing a country has done in a long, long time only for America to go ahead and top it.

In fact, 2016 was so bad that when you type ‘cel’ into Google, the first thing it suggests as an autofill is this:

The collective response to most of these things was: fuck. At the time of writing*, 946,158,697 fucks had been given (shared/commented/published in a blog or news article) in 2016. But what warranted the most fucks?

It won’t surprise you to know that the biggest day for fucks given was November 9, triggered by the election of Donald Trump. What might surprise you though, is just how many fucks were shared.

An average of 2,613,698 fucks were given per day in 2016. Most days — even the really shitty ones — saw between 2 and 4 millions fucks. On November 9, there were 7,638,384 — nearly three times the average.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that the second highest day only saw 3,518,781 mentions of the word fuck. Just look at the size of the spike:

And that spike looks even larger next to his tiny hands

Terms used

I typically despise word clouds, as they’re so often used for no other reason than to look pretty in a crappy Powerpoint presentation.

However the word ‘fuck’ can be used in a number of ways. It can be used to express joy, ‘fuck yeah’, sadness, ‘oh fuck’, anger, ‘fuck off’ or it can be used simply as a verb — no I’m not providing an example of this. In this case, a word cloud gives you a pretty good sense of people’s motivation for using the word.

Note — I manually removed the n-word from the word cloud. To give you a sense of its prominence, it was slightly smaller than the word ‘life’.

As you can see, WTF was the driving sentiment behind the use of the word.

Associated people

Despite the number of fucks given on November 9, Trump wasn’t the person most commonly associated with the word ‘fuck’. As the below word cloud shows, ‘local hotties’ beat Trump to the number one spot. No points for guessing what’s going on there.

Andrew. Fuck that guy.

Aside from the infamous ‘Local Hotties’, people associated with the word ‘fuck’ are largely politicians, Jesus and a chap named Andrew.

Sweariest sex

Women were significantly more sweary on social, with 58% of posts mentioning fuck coming from a woman. This is possibly due to the whole vagina grabbing leader of the free world thing.

Note — gender data is estimated based on their name, bio or what they tweet about.

‘Index’ in the above graph is a metric which is corrected for the overall number of men and women in the data pool (i.e. even when corrected for an uneven number of men and women, women remain the sweariest sex).

Notes on the data:

I tracked all mentions of ‘fuck’ on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, blogs, comments, forums and in the news using a tool called Netbase, which is a very powerful tool when it comes to monitoring social media.

It’s worth noting here that different channels offer differing amounts of accuracy and reliability: Twitter and Tumblr are both really reliable as they’re robust as well as open, whereas data from channels like Facebook is incomplete due to the fact that most posts are private. Instagram’s data was sketchy and I’m always skeptical of news tracking on Netbase as it’s primarily designed for social media tracking.

I also noticed some issues with other channels — such as zero values on certain days on Instagram, which looking at other days seems very unlikely.

Still, when viewed as a whole, it paints an accurate picture of the year.

To download the source data, click here.

Paul Stollery

Written by

Comms freelancer. Knows all the words to Wyclef Jean's Perfect Gentleman. Fan of ocelots.

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