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Social Media’s Response to Apple vs. The FBI

Authors: Gabrielle Hughes Gabrielle Hughes
Posted Under: Digital Marketing
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This Week in Realtime Media

Business: Virgin America Launches #LetModFly

Calling all Mad Men fans! Time to pull out your best mid-century look and book a flight with Virgin America.

In an effort to promote the airline’s expanded year-round service to Palm Springs from San Francisco and New York, Virgin America is asking customers flying to and from PSP to play dress-up. Those that embrace the 60s spirit and take a photo with Virgin America’s Modernism Week display at the gate will be entered to win a free upgrade.

On Tuesday, Virgin’s promotion was shared on Twitter, topping their popular tweets from the week:

Still, #LetModFly is only ranked fifth among their Top Hashtags:

With the promotion running just until February 21, concern can be drawn over the fact that the hashtag has only been used 11 times. To be fair, the airliner anticipated results like these. Patricia Condon, head of events and public relations at Virgin America, stated before the release, “Since it just one city in our network, we were not anticipating massive engagement on this.” 

At the same time, the airliner seems to 2stand out among competitors by engaging their fans and flyers in driving brand awareness. Summed up nicely by Condon, “It makes sense for us to find creative ways to let loyal flyers spread awareness about how different our experience is.”

Tech: Apple vs. the FBI

Earlier this week, Apple shared that a federal court ordered the company to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers back in December. The tech giant responded with a strongly-worded letter that caused a media frenzy.

While it has not been uncommon for technology companies to resist government demand, Apple’s letter is setting a new precedent. The response, which was signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, warns that complying with the order would entail building “a backdoor to the iPhone” — “something we consider too dangerous to create.”

Additionally, the tech giant states, “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers—including tens of millions of American citizens—from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.”

Since the letter publicly released on Wednesday, traffic around the conversation has remained relatively high. Mention volume is averaging in at around 7,115 an hour, with nearly 172k per day:


And what is the sentiment being expressed within the conversation?

According to our Emoji Cloud, both anger ? and applause ? are among the most popular emojis being shared on Twitter:

The ? stems from people being upset with both Tim Cook AND the FBI:

While the ? is applauding Apple for stepping up to the FBI:

While there is not yet a clear consensus on how people are perceiving Apple’s bold stance against the government, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds over the coming weeks. Stay tuned, as we continue to monitor the case and provide regular updates on both Twitter and our blog!

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