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Sports

How a few tweets about P.K. Subban became a major story

A series of events during and after Game 1 of the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series fueled the perception of Boston as racist. SocialSphere, a Cambridge firm that monitors social media trends, and the Globe analyzed tweets, and their related context, posted after that game and other recent occasions of a black player excelling in the NHL playoffs.

Warning: This graphic contains offensive, racist language that has been redacted. Click on the redacted items to view the complete graphic.
How the story went viral
May 1, 8:23 p.m.
A tweet by Arcadio Marcuzzi, a Canadian soccer writer (@_marcuzzi), after P.K. Subban scored his first goal during the first game of the Bruins-Canadiens series, included an image that suggested the n-word was trending in Boston. That tweet, which has since been deleted, amplified attention, especially after it was retweeted by the captain of Montreal's Major League Soccer team, Patrice Bernier, who has almost 15,000 followers.
Marcuzzi later backed off his claim. In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: "Trending or not, a single comment of this nature is one too many. This misunderstanding should not defect the attention. Re:#latstweet." He also retweeted a Canadian sports journalist who acknowledged the term never trended in Boston.
May 2, 6:21 a.m.
Detroit CBS Local writes first Twitter story.
May 2, 9:02 a.m.
InfluenceComm tweets out a photo of its genealogy analysis of "Subban" and the n word. Even its illustration has an error. Did it search the correct spelling of the n word or use an alternate version?
May 2, 12:15 p.m.
CBC, Huffington Post, many more, write a story with the 17,000 details from InfluenceComm and that the n word was trending in Boston.

They later write a clarification at the bottom that it wasn't actually trending.
May 2, 12:15 p.m.
After some media reported about racist tweets directed at Subban during and after Game 1, Bruins president Cam Neely added to the attention the issue received when he issued a statement on behalf of the team.

“The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday’s game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization,” Bruins president Cam Neely said in the statement.
Amount of tweets by hour Between May 1 and May 3
Cam Neely statement

Boston AND trending

May 1, 0:00
May 3, 23:00

Boston AND racist

May 1, 0:00
May 3, 23:00

Bruins AND racist

May 1, 0:00
May 3, 23:00
THE PLAYOFFS TWEETS

The charts below show the number of tweets in key games that contained Subban and the n word. User profiles and past Twitter history were used to determine team affiliation.

DATA: Socialsphere

Andrew Ba Tran, Chiqui Esteban, Matt Pepin / Globe Staff

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