A Social Media Approach to Measuring Frame Impacts: What Was the Problem in Parkland?

34 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019

See all articles by Nora Webb Williams

Nora Webb Williams

University of Georgia; University of Washington, Department of Political Science

Andreu Casas

New York University (NYU) - Center for Data Science

Wesley Zuidema

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kevin Aslett

University of Washington - Department of Political Science

John Wilkerson

University of Washington - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 9, 2019

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Webb Williams, Nora and Casas, Andreu and Zuidema, Wesley and Aslett, Kevin and Wilkerson, John, A Social Media Approach to Measuring Frame Impacts: What Was the Problem in Parkland? (May 9, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3383797 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3383797

Nora Webb Williams (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States

University of Washington, Department of Political Science ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

Andreu Casas

New York University (NYU) - Center for Data Science ( email )

726 Broadway
7th Floor
New York, NY 10003
United States

Wesley Zuidema

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Kevin Aslett

University of Washington - Department of Political Science ( email )

101 Gowen Hall
Box 353530
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

John Wilkerson

University of Washington - Department of Political Science ( email )

101 Gowen Hall
Box 353530
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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