Twitter impact on a community trauma: An examination of who, what, and why it radiated

Mary Ellen Brown, Patricia A. Dustman, Juan J. Barthelemy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The study examined the radiating impacts of trauma following the officer-involved shooting of Alton Sterling. Twitter data (#AltonSterling) was collected, filtered, and analyzed using textual and spatial methods. Primary coding encompassed the 30-day period immediately following the shooting. In general, tweets were not used to convey either facts or neutral information, rather, personal opinions dominated. The immediate responses were largely grounded in fear and/or violence. One particularly illuminating finding was the absence of messaging and silence from local leadership. Social media can be a tool to either provide consolatory messaging to promote healing and health, or to spread inflammatory exchanges that perpetuate community discord, further fracture communities and groups, and elevate the risk of retraumatization. Local organizations need established protocols for using social media proactively in the aftermath of community trauma; social media can be a powerful tool for enhancing community cohesion, recovery, and resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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