Muslim Ban Oral Arguments: Social Media Readout

Apr 27, 2018

Muslim Ban Oral Arguments: Social Media Readout

The Overall Conversation

In the overall conversation on Twitter about the Muslim ban on the day of oral arguments, nearly 96,000 users sent more than 116,000 tweets. Those tweets reached a potential of 813.8 million people and garnered 1.7 billion (with a B!) impressions on April 25 alone.

Of that conversation, nearly 60 percent of the tweets framed the conversation as a “Muslim Ban,” while 40 percent referred to it as a “travel ban.” Many traditional media outlets framed their coverage as a “travel ban,” so it was not just opposition leading that message frame.

Top Content

Looking at the 100 most-retweeted posts in the overall Twitter conversation, 57 tweets condemned the ban, 32 tweets supported the ban and/or came from our opposition, and 11 tweets were neutral in tone. So, of the most-shared content on Twitter the day of the oral arguments, more than half opposed the ban.

Of those top posts opposing the ban, six major message frames prevailed, including:

  • People were proud to protest the ban and/or stood in solidarity with those fighting the ban;
  • The Muslim Ban is against our American values, such as freedom of religion;
  • The Muslim Ban is rooted in discriminatory intent;
  • The Trump administration is inept (on this day in particular, Twitter users pointed to the government lawyer’s assertion that Islam is a country, as opposed to previous tweets of this frame pointing to the flawed rollout of the ban);
  • Counterproductive frames, such as referring to the problems with white supremacy and the proliferation of gun violence in our country;
  • The Muslim Ban is against the law.

Top Hashtags

Of all the tweets about the ban on April 25th, the top hashtag by far was #NoMuslimBanEver, which was promoted by MASA groups and allies. More than 35 percent of all tweets about the ban that day used the #NoMuslimBanEver hashtag, which trended nationally on Twitter off and on throughout the day of the oral arguments.

#NoMuslimBanEver was included in 48,000 tweets sent by 35,300 users on April 25, which reached a potential 138.8 million people and garnered nearly 274 million estimated impressions.

Other top hashtags that day included #MuslimBan (11.4 percent of tweets), #SCOTUS (5.4 percent), #TravelBan (5.2 percent), #Dreamers (3.3 percent), and #WednesdayWisdom (2.4 percent). Opposition hashtags #MAGA and #Trump were included in 2.3 percent and 1.6 percent of tweets, respectively.


Top Content From MASA Community & Allies

On Twitter, some of the top over-performing content from the community came from MPower Change, whose tweet performed 10.6 times better than average MPower content; Win Without War (8.4x), SAALT (8.2x), the Arab American Institute (7.2x); the National Immigration Law Center (7.1x), the Southern Poverty Law Center (6x), and ISNA (4.2x).

On Facebook, some of the top over-performing content came from CAIR, whose post performed 15.3 times better than average CAIR content, the Southern Poverty Law Center (4.1x), New American Leaders (2.8x), and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (2.7x).



Top Takeaways from Over-Performing Content

  • The content reinforces what we’re for, not what we’re against;
  • The posts have compelling, uncompromising language;
  • The dynamic quotes and imagery make people feel like they’re standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, and the content takes advantage of the social platforms’ algorithms to favor photos and videos; 
  • The posts remind us of the bigger fight against anti-Muslim bigotry.

(For a more in-depth look at these takeaways, see our recent blog post). 

Some of our favorite dynamic content of the day came from Catherine Orsborn and Linda Sarsour.


The posts are visually compelling, emotionally rich, and speak to what we’re fighting for.


Other Key Voices


Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state legislatures sent strongly worded tweets opposing the Muslim Ban on the day of the oral argument.

Some of the top-performing posts came from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Chris Murphy, Mazie Hirono, Ben Cardin, and Tim Kaine; Reps. Andre Carson, Debbie Dingell and Pramila Jayapal; and state legislator Ilhan Omar, several of whom showed up in person at the rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Adam Smith also had over-performing posts on Instagram from the rally.

Allies that Neutralize Our Opposition

Our opponents try to paint Islam as anti-woman and anti-LGBT. So it was critical that allies like Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, and Lambda Legal came out with such fervor against the Muslim Ban. The official social accounts from the Women’s March also shared powerful content opposing the ban throughout the day.

Celebrity Influencers

Several celebrities lent their platforms to fighting the ban on the day of oral arguments, including actors Piper Perabo, Kumail Nanjiani, and Alyssa Milano, who shared the ACLU’s resource “Living with the Muslim Ban,” and the musician Common, who shared a simple and direct message opposing the ban.


Recommendations & Next Steps

All Eyes on SCOTUS

After the oral arguments, it now all comes down to how SCOTUS decides. Justice Kennedy, long believed to be the swing vote in this case, sounded skeptical in oral arguments that the ban is discriminatory. 

What can we do to influence Justice Kennedy, whether doubling down on his Catholic beliefs and what they say about religious freedom, or amplifying interfaith voices? Can we place more content in legal journals? Can we amplify the legal arguments on our side? How else can we get content in front of Justice Kennedy and his clerks?

Framing the Eventual Decision

Will the court be remembered for a modern Brown vs. the Board of Education, or another Korematsu? Will it be the triumph of Loving or the pain of Dredd Scott? Will the court support religious freedom for all, or tell people that if they pray a certain way the government can ban them?

Using this values-based messaging will help underscore the very real consequences the decision will have, no matter how the court rules in this case.

Reinforce What We're For, Not What We're Against

We stand for religious freedom for all. A choice about this freedom is what is now before the court. It is a crossroad for our civil rights values. 
Producing content that speaks to our American values helps remind our audience what is on the line with this decision. It also helps to undercut our opposition’s fear-mongering.