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Black Lives Matter: The social media behind a movement

Publication Date:
04/08/2016
Category:
In the Media
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Posts with feelings of sadness more likely to spur people into action over Black Lives Matter, study says.

Tweets related to the Black Lives Matter movement suggest that sadness, rather than anger, might be more effective in galvanising people into action, according to new research.

Scientists analysed the emotions behind almost 29 million tweets about four events in 2014 and 2015 that led to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in an attempt to identify patterns.

Tweets with a higher level of "negative affect" and sadness, but lower on anger and anxiety were associated with larger rallies the following day, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) said.

Over time, people changed their posting style, using fewer negative references such as "death", instead opting for more social words such as "we" and "us".

Social upheavals fostered a sense of solidarity among those affected, said Georgia Tech's Munmun De Choudhury, who specialises in social media and mental wellbeing.

"Our analysis of Twitter activity immediately preceding BLM protests shows evidence of the same phenomenon," De Choudhury said.

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