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Social insights into Wagatha Christie: when words go wrong

It’s Jubilee week, and the streets of Britain are adorned with bunting; kitchen tables laden with Victoria sponge and coronation chicken. So what better a time to review social insights into one of the most British of British events in recent history?

We’re untangling the linguistic whodunnit of Wagatha Christie.

It’s a story that many will know well. Back in 2019, growing suspicious that a follower of her personal Instagram account was leaking stories to the tabloids, Coleen Rooney (wife of England striker Wayne) did something rather crafty. Strategically blocking and hiding her posts to all but a few followers, Rooney was able to determine which posts were leaking, and who had been viewing them. In October 2019, she arrived at a single conclusion:

“I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.

“It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.”

As if such a tweet wasn’t drama enough, Vardy (wife of England striker Jamie) is suing for libel. The case has been splashed across tabloids and social media ever since its arrival in court earlier this month.

It is a tale of fame, modern media, and snowballing petty arguments. It is also a war of words, and at Relative Insight, we’ve been untangling the text to gather social insights and get to the bottom of this very modern British melodrama.

A war of words

It is no exaggeration to say that the crux of this case lies in language. On the Rooney side, it’s been argued that by pointing the finger of blame at “Rebekah Vardy’s account”, Rooney was not incriminating Vardy directly, but rather anyone involved in running her account. This argument was dismissed: this is simply not how the tweet was intended to be read.

On the Vardy side, the argument has been stretched even further. Faced with a frankly quite compromising text that Vardy had sent to her agent – “Would love to leak these stories x” – Vardy’s defence was simply that she “didn’t mean ‘leak’”.

“Can we agree if a sentence reads that way, that’s what it means?”, Rooney’s lawyer challenged. “No”, was Vardy’s response.

This was a courtroom juxtaposed by language: all “m’lords” and “your ladyships” on one side, and “fumings” and “nasty bitches” on the other. In the farcical arguments that ensued, important and pressing questions shine through: Are we becoming too casual with our words, and too detached from the destructive power that they can have? Are our words becoming more deniable? And is social media to blame?

Trial by Twitter

While legal proceedings continue, the court of social media has been quick to reach its own verdict on the Wagatha Christie case.

Using our text analysis software on social listening data, we’ve analysed over 15,000 tweets about Rooney, Vardy, and the Wagatha Christie saga. Comparing the data on the platform has given us a variety of social insights and a strong indication of where followers are placing the blame – and it doesn’t look good for Rebekah Vardy.

The writing’s on the wall

When comparing tweets about the two WAGs, our analysis shows that Rooney more often courts the language of leadership and authority – with tweeters more likely to refer to her as a ‘queen’, ‘chief’ or ‘figurehead’ than they are Vardy.

Rebekah Vardy, meanwhile, attracts a different kind of attention. When discussing her, tweeters are more likely to express scepticism and outrage – using the emoji 🙄 41.2x more often and phrases like ‘omg’ 15.2x more frequently.

“Rebekah Vardy is so guilty omg!”

The final verdict

Most tellingly, there is a simple yet powerful lexical difference between discussions of the pair. Tweets about Rooney are 6.3x more likely to contain the word ‘truth’, yet only tweets about Vardy contain the word ‘liar’.

If this case were being tried in the royal courts of Twitter, the verdict would be clear: Vardy is the guilty party.

Gathering social insights to understand the power of words

While such a fabulously petty case is easy to make light of, it also offers an important lesson about the power of words in modern media. This is a case about leaking words, accusing words, denying words, and judgemental words.

Using text analysis, we’ve begun to unpick these linguistic trends; identifying social media as not just the crime scene, but also the judge, jury and executioner.

Through the highs and lows of Wagatha Christie, followers have already decided upon their culprit, and our social insights tell us that tweeters think it’s………. Rebekah Vardy.

Relative Insight’s inaugural one-day event dedicated to talking all things text analytics takes place in June, and tickets are free.

This event is a one-of-a-kind day where the focus is to reimagine qualitative data analysis techniques, to discuss the importance of new analysis methodology, to wax lyrical about language and to talk serious unstructured data – sign up now.

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