Using data* from the social monitoring tool Crowdtangle, Euronews takes a look at which MEPs studied got the most reaction to their social posts in 2017.
The reactions tracked are the posts with the most-clicked emoticons, including: likes, haha, wow, sad, and love emojis.
The data revealed that Italy's far-right politician Matteo Salvini dominated five out of the six reactions studied.
Salvini is a member of the European Parliament and the leader of Italy’s separatist Northern League party (Lega Nord) since 2013 and the southern sister party—Us with Salvini—since December 2014. The Northern League is best-known for adopting Eurosceptic views and anti-immigration policies under Salvini’s leadership.
Salvini has the most Facebook page likes out of all the MEPs studied, scoring 1.96 million page likes. His Facebook posts tallied a total of 26.38 million reactions in 2017.
Breakdown of post popularity based on emoji reaction per month
Salvini’s September post about a Congolese man who, at the time, was on trial for allegedly raping and assaulting women in Rimini, Italy, garnered the angriest reactions on Facebook, with more than 16,000 total angry faces.
Guerlin Butungu was sentenced to 16 years of prison in a plea deal for raping a Polish tourist in Rimini, hitting her friend and raping a transgender sex worker afterward on November 10.
The comments below the post are mostly profane and target the Congolese man who was convicted of rape.
Salvini also got the highest number of sad emoticons when he shared an article about an Italian woman who lost her life to breast cancer and left her 1-year-old daughter presents each year until her 18th birthday.
The post got more than 10,000 sad emoticons.
Salvini also garnered the most love emoticons with a viral video of a deaf baby in the US who hears her mother’s voice for the first time thanks to a hearing device.
The post accumulated more than 10,000 love emoticons and more than 628,000 total views.
The post that got the highest number of haha emoticons is a photo shared by Salvini, which shows a person with their face and body covered at sea. The photo’s caption reads “Welcome to the sea!”
The post shared by Salvini received more than 9,000 haha emoticons.
The photo was not taken by Salvini. The bottom-left logo on the picture indicates the photo was taken from the youreporter.it website, an affiliate of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sierra.
However, the origins of the photo are unclear. The picture has appeared on Turkish and Arabic social media accounts before being published by youreporter.it. The location and the date of the picture cannot be confirmed.
Salvini also scored the highest in this category with a post about gas prices and taxes in Italy.
The picture in Salvini’s post shows a sign for a Total gas station and is described as being taken in Livigno, Italy, on August 21.
The caption reads: “Here we are, here's how much fuel cost in Livigno (Sondrio) without the theft called "fuel taxes". We should get rid of 80-years old levies, this will be our duty. We can change!”
Livigno enjoys a special tax status as a duty-free area and does not pay value-added tax. The town's website states that the price of gas is almost 50 percent less compared to other places in Italy.
Quartz explains that fuel prices are higher in Italy than other European countries because an old tax on gas used to finance government action abroad is still in place. Historically, the tax helped finance things like the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the reconstruction after Irpinia earthquake in 1980, and the Suez crisis of 1956.
The only reaction where Salvini did not obtain the highest number was with the 'like' emoji.
Coratian politician Neven Mimica, a diplomat who has served as the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development since November 2014, outdid the other MEPs in this category with a post about the milestones of the Cotonou Agreement.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the EU and African/Caribbean countries on issues such as climate change, food security, regional integration and aid.
In his role as Development Commissioner, Mimica works specifically on negotiations to revise the agreement with countries involved.
The post had more than 208,000 likes at time of writing.
Belgian MEP's video stands out among the rest
However, one video stood out in several reaction categories. The Facebook video of Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt debating with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban about European values was the only post to appear in the likes, wow, and love categories.
The video shows Verhofstadt accusing Orban of disregarding European legislation on the death penalty and immigration policies. The former Belgian prime minister also questions Orban on Hungary's gas and nuclear energy deals with Russia.
The video has been viewed nearly 6 million times and received more than 60,000 shares.
*Methodology: Crowdtangle calculated each reaction category based on the top emoticon reactions for each moth.