I think it’s safe to so say that social media has forever changed the way we as humans react to breaking news. It has also changed the way we interact with other human beings and as we have learned this week it has changed how we mourn the loss of a celebrity.

“Fast and Furious” actor Paul Walker was tragically killed in an automobile accident on Saturday and since then friends, fans, celebrities and even companies have taken to social media to offer condolences, critiques, and jokes. One company even used this tragedy to promote their own brand. Since his death only four days ago, Paul Walker has already received more social media attention than he ever had before.

The Accident

An official announcement was released through both Paul Walker’s Facebook Page and Twitter Page stating that he had died in an automobile accident while on his way to a charity event. The Facebook post has since received 2,004,347 likes, 510,904 comments and has been shared 530,416 times. The tweet has received 396,225 retweets and 98,699 favorites. These two posts are BY FAR the most popular posts on each of Paul Walker’s accounts.

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The Numbers

Last Friday Paul Walker was an “average” celebrity when it came to social media. He would post on Facebook an average of two or three times a week and tweeted just a little more than that. Before the accident, the official Paul Walker Twitter Account had 801,451 followers. As of today, the PaulWalkerFbgraphaccount now has 2,030,949 followers. That is a growth of 1,229,498 followers in just 4 days! Although we could not get the specific number of  fans the Paul Walker Facebook Page had before his death, the page is now up to 12,306,569 likes and as the page indicates, 9,658,296 people are talking about Paul Walker on Facebook.

Capitalizing on a Tragedy

In a series of more than 30 tweets directed at celebrities and news organizations who had tweeted about the Paul Walker tragedy, the Price Comparison cite 4autoinsurancequote.com urged these celebrities and organizations to “get a free quote now” after stating something like “Paul Walker died in an auto accident, but did he have insurance?” or “Hope he had insurance.” Clearly this company was trying to capitalize of this immense tragedy.

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One tweet was even directed to Paul Walkers official account stated, “Yo Paul did u have insurance for that crash? Hope so.”

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It’s clear that millions of people have now chosen to follow, tweet to, and talk about Paul Walker now that he is no longer with us. It’s sad that companies have chosen to try to capitalize off of this and other tragedy’s that have occurred. What are your thoughts on all of this? Have you followed or tweeted about Paul Walker since he died? If so let us know why you chose to do it.

All numbers are as of 12:00pm MST December 4, 2013

Jamie Bates