What was the problem in parkland? Using social media to measure the effectiveness of issue frames

Kevin Aslett, Nora Webb Williams, Andreu Casas Salleras, John Wilkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agenda setting and issue framing research investigates how frames impact public attention, policy decisions, and political outcomes. Social media sites, such as Twitter, provide opportunities to study framing dynamics in an important area of political discourse. We present a method for identifying frames in tweets and measuring their effectiveness. We use topic modeling combined with manual validation to identify recurrent problem frames and topics in thousands of tweets by gun rights and gun control groups following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, shooting. We find that each side used Twitter to advance policy narratives about the problem in Parkland. Gun rights groups’ narratives implied that more gun restrictions were not the solution. Their most effective frame focused on officials’ failures to enforce existing laws. In contrast, gun control groups portrayed easy access to guns as the problem and emphasized the importance of mobilizing politically to force change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-289
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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