The year is still relatively new, but if Twitter and Facebook numbers are any indication, it already belongs to our exiting president. Barack Obama’s farewell speech from McCormick Place in Chicago on Tuesday night is so far the biggest social media event of 2017.
Obama’s final speech as President of the United States attracted 17.97 million interactions from 7.94 million unique users across both Facebook and Twitter, according to Nielsen Social. Those numbers were good enough to beat out its closest competitors, this year’s Golden Globes Awards and the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game. The Golden Globes attracted 10.1 million interactions from roughly 4.4 million unique users, which is more than half of the president’s activity, but not significantly more.
The last-second heroics of the Clemson Tigers, which helped dethrone the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship game came the closest. The classic finale to the 2016-2017 college football season attracted more interactions across Facebook and Twitter than the President’s farewell address, with approximately 18.75 million interactions. However, it only attracted roughly 6.35 million unique users, more than 1.5 million users less than the farewell address. Not surprising, since the TV ratings for the game have decreased each of the last two years.
Obama’s views on technology’s potentially adverse effects on the U.S. economy were promulgated in his farewell speech. “The next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas,” Obama sternly remarked “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.” Obama, in 2015, stated that automation is a reason for low wages in America, and has been vociferous about this topic as recently as last October. In an interview with Wired Magazine, Obama suggested a change in how society operates must happen in light of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
You can relive Obama’s historic speech here.