Israeli startup’s comment data may augur trouble for Trump
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Israeli startup’s comment data may augur trouble for Trump

3 weeks ahead of election, the public is less inclined to discuss the Republican candidate, according to Spot.IM

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 (AFP/ Paul J. Richards)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 (AFP/ Paul J. Richards)

Sardonic Irish author Oscar Wilde wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” If that’s true, Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump may have something new to worry about, according to Israeli startup Spot.IM.

Spot.IM is the company that powers the Comments section on innumerable web articles, providing a platform that media sites can easily include (via an SDK — a software developer kit) to enable readers to interact with sites and with each other. Spot.IM provides such services for over 4,600 media sites, including some of the largest, such as AOL, Time Inc., Huffington Post, etc. There are over 300 million interactions on Spot.IM-sponsored comment forums each month, on articles with over 3 billion page views.

As such, the company has its finger on the pulse of how readers feel about some of the most significant (as well as irrelevant) topics in the public discourse – and there are few topics that people feel more strongly about these days than the US presidential election.

According to data gathered by the company in recent weeks from the sites whose comment sections they run, responses to articles that discuss Trump by responders who focused their comments on him are off nearly 10 percent: The number of people responding to or initiating discussions with Trump as the main focus has fallen, from about two-thirds of all comment exchanges to 57%.

It should be noted, said Spot.IM CEO Nadav Shoval, that the data does not indicate which of the two candidates is more likely to win.

“What we examined could be taken as an indication of the level of motivation of readers to comment on a candidate, either for better or worse,” he said. “We didn’t get into whether the comments were pro or anti either candidate, or whether they were balanced.”

The company did not say what percentage of all talkbacks mentioned either or both candidates, or the election in general.

“The trend has flipped for Trump. If until a few weeks ago he was ‘in control’ of two thirds of the comments relating to either candidate, it appears now that the American commenting public is less enthusiastic about mentioning his name, for better or worse.”

Founded in 2012, the company, which works with over 25% of US digital content sites, in August raised $13 million in Series A funding for expansion “We’re all about bringing together the online publishing industry, and giving our partners and content creators a social community that they can be proud to cultivate. We’ve seen the struggle dealing with third parties and that’s why we’re determined to change the web,” said Shoval. “That’s why Spot.IM was created. We partner with digital publishers to keep their conversations generated from original content within their entity.”

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