A Social Media Approach to Measuring Frame Impacts: What Was the Problem in Parkland?
34 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019
Date Written: May 9, 2019
Issue framing research broadly investigates how problem definitions impact public attention (and support), policy decisions, and political outcomes. Social media sites, such as Twitter, provide unique opportunities to study framing dynamics and effectiveness. In contrast to newspaper or television coverage, Twitter offers concise messaging and quantitative indicators of public reactions in the form of retweets and changes in numbers of account followers. We examine the choices and effectiveness of narrative frames by gun rights and gun control groups in response to the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (February 14, 2018). We use topic modeling combined with manual validation to identify narrative frames in thousands of Parkland-related tweets, focusing on frames that attempt to define the problem that led to the shooting. We then compare frame usage across groups and assess which frames were most effective. We find that gun groups used systemic or individualistic problem frames based on their policy goals. For gun control groups, the most effective frame defined the problem as easy access to guns and not mental illness. For gun rights groups, the most effective frame blamed the shooting on failures to enforce existing laws.
Keywords: Framing, Social Media, Mass Shootings, Parkland, Marjory Stoneman Douglas
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