Pew: Gun Control Debates Dominate Social Media Following Newtown Tragedy
Gun policy discussions accounted for nearly 30% of social media conversation after Newtown shootings
By George Winslow -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/20/2012 4:23:06 PM
"On both blogs and Twitter, the gun policy discussion accounted for almost 30% of the social media conversation examined by PEJ, exceeding even prayers and expressions of sympathy in the three days following the Dec. 14 massacre that left 26 dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School," the report noted. "And, within that discussion, calls for stricter gun control measures exceeded defenses of current gun laws and policies by more than two to one."
The PEJ analysis of social media conversation used technology from Crimson Hexagon, which provides tools for analyzing social media conversations.
The report also noted that the recent shootings elicited a quite different response than earlier incidents, including the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
"In the first three days after that tragedy, the discussion about our country's gun laws was barely present -- representing just 3% of the social media conversation in all," the report noted. "Instead, bloggers and Twitter users posted mainly about the heated political discourse in our country and its possible relationship to the shooting. Similarly, in the social media response to the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012, outrage at the alleged perpetrator and the role of race in the incident overshadowed questions surrounding gun rights and Florida's Stand Your Ground statute."
The report also noted that the shootings were also a top news event on YouTube. PEJ noted that the most watched video by far was President Obama's initial statement from the White House. That video was watched over 7 million times in the first five days after the tragedy.
PEJ also analyzed newspaper editorials and op-ed pieces following the shootings. Of the 52 examined, 25 called for gun reform and four opposed new gun control rules.
The full report can be found here.
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