In the true meaning of the world "viral," the Twitter hashtag "#legitimaterape," which at its peak yesterday garnered over 1,000 mentions in a 10-minute period, began with a New Jersey man with fewer than 100 followers who sneezed on the right person.
Republican Missouri Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin's claim that women rarely get pregnant from "legitimate rape" was already attracting Twitter's artillery Sunday afternoon when user @JerseyMPL joined the fray:
By including the username for comedian and Twitter luminary Rob Delaney, who was already tweeting on the subject, Martin-Paul was attempting to get Delaney to broadcast the hashtag to his 500,000-plus followers. Several others joined in and also mentioned Delaney's name, which got his attention. A few minutes later, he publicly wondered whether "#LegitimateRape [is] trending yet?"
Once Delaney was infected, the hashtag spread rapidly. More than 300 people retweeted his message, pulling in still more people, and so on. The hashtag peaked two hours later at 1,117 mentions between 4:30 and 4:40 pm ET:
Martin-Paul did not respond to several tweets for comment, but did later celebrate the boon of his well-timed movement: He now has 103 people following his tweets.