The latest developments in #PanamaPapers: John Doe speaks up and the database goes public

May 10 2016
Published in Crisis

The Panama Papers scandal has now been raging since April, and online activity around the topic has been gradually decreasing. That all changed this weekend when “John Doe”, the anonymous individual at the source of the Panama Papers, spoke up for the first time, publishing a written account of his thoughts and intentions. On top of that, the Panama Papers database went public last night, stimulating the conversation around the topic even further. We used the Visibrain media monitoring platform to see how these latest developments have boosted the conversation around Panama Papers.

A revelation that revived flagging interest in the scandal

The overall conversation around the Panama Papers have been gradually dimming over time since the crisis broke at the beginning of April. Mention volumes have gone from a staggering 5,139,214 mentions in the first week of the crisis to a considerably lower (but still respectable) 215,869 mentions over the first week of May.

A graph showing the evolution of mention volumes around the Panama Papers last week

John Doe’s manifesto was published on Friday May 6th, and the spike in online activity around the Panama Papers on that day can be clearly seen:

A grpah showing mention volumes of Panama Papers in the first minutes after John Doe's manifesto was released

John Doe’s revelations boosted Panama Papers mention volumes by 70% between Friday and Monday.

A manifesto that went global in minutes

14,221 press articles, blog posts, videos and photos were published about the Panama Papers over the weekend, and the most popular were all about John Doe. The screenshot below shows the most-shared publications from this weekend: we can see that the most popular was an article from the ICIJ:

The most shared press artciles around John Doe's Panama Papers manifesto this weekend

The Panama Papers have been a global crisis from their very first moments, and the latest development in the scandal was no different. The huge international network of journalists behind the coverage of the leak meant that John Doe’s manifesto went around the world in minutes: we can see that the articles above were published in a variety of languages, and just minutes from one another.

The influencers that made the manifesto go viral

As the world’s fastest-moving news network, Twitter has played an important role in spreading the news of the Panama Papers from the very beginning, and the social network played a similar role in this weekend’s developments.

22,672 individual users tweeted about John Doe’s manifesto this weekend, including some of the world’s most influential press accounts:

The top press accounts tweeting about John Doe's manifesto

Edward Snowden was also very present over the weekend. As one of the key influencers driving the scandal on social media from the very beginning, he tweeted several times about the John Doe manifesto:

He was the influencer with the highest impact by far, retweeted a total of 7,645 times over the weekend:

The top influencers tweeting about John Doe's manifesto

The Panama Papers database goes public

As from Monday evening, the damning information contained in the Panama Papers database has been made public and searchable, making it accessible to all.

The release of the data has caused a remarkable spike in online mentions of the Panama Papers: over the past 24 hours there have been 197,581 mentions of the Panama Papers, an increase of 196%:

Activity volumes around Panama Papers for the past 24 hours

While these volumes are no where near as high as those generated when the Panama Papers first hit the headlines, this weekend’s developments have undeniably boosted the conversation around the topic.

Download our full Panama Papers case study

Want to know more about the Panama Papers scandal?

Download our full case study for exclusive insights into how the biggest leak in the history of data journalism was covered by the press and on social media:

  • A breakdown of the first moments of the scandal: how the Panama Papers went global in a matter of minutes
  • The influencers driving the crisis on social media
  • Global press coverage of the scandal
  • The individuals who have been the most heavily targeted by the press and how they have been impacted so far
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Published in Crisis