Twitter analysis shows Boston bombings had little effect on immigration reform conversations

May 07, 2013

An analysis by researchers at the Institute for Immigration Research (IIR) at George Mason University shows that the Boston Marathon bombings had little effect on conversations on social media regarding immigration reform.

Using two different data mining applications, the researchers collected more than 750,000 tweets containing the word "immigration" beginning in February 2013.

"The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 provided an unexpected opportunity to examine how this event has affected the immigration reform debate," says Jim Witte, director of the IIR. "We compared conversations about immigration on Twitter before, during, and after April 15."

Before the bombing, Witte says, conversations on Twitter were very polarized--with separate conservative and liberal clusters not interacting much with each other in conversation. Another cluster of users talking about immigration included more diversity. "It's best described as a mainstream cluster that includes both liberal as well as conservative viewpoints," says Witte. "These tweeters tend not to be as extreme, and they have many connections with the two more ideological clusters, which suggests that this the mainstream cluster acts in part as an informational bridge between them."

On the day of the Boston bombings, the conversation on Twitter shifted a little, the researchers saw. "Tweeters in all clusters were tweeting about the bombing in relation to immigration--even though there was not yet any evidence of such a connection," says Witte. The conservative cluster diminished in size and there was a large influx of tweeters who weren't connected to any other immigration tweeters.

With evidence that Chechnyan immigrants Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, mainstream media were speculating whether their status might affect the immigration debate in America. Words like "deportation," "amnesty," "terrorism," and "borders" were associated with immigration tweets after the bombings.

However, just two weeks after the bombing, Witte says, the conversations looked very similar to those before the bombings took place. "In the short run, we found no indication that this connection has left a permanent mark on the conversation on Twitter," Witte says.

Witte says that tracking these conversations via social media is important not only to look at the progress of issues like immigration reform but also to understand the relationship between social media and public opinion.
More information about the analysis can be found at:

George Mason University

Related Social Media Articles from Brightsurf:

it's not if, but how people use social media that impacts their well-being
New research from UBC Okanagan indicates what's most important for overall happiness is how a person uses social media.

Social media postings linked to hate crimes
A new paper in the Journal of the European Economic Association, published by Oxford University Press, explores the connection between social media and hate crimes.

How Steak-umm became a social media phenomenon during the pandemic
A new study outlines how a brand of frozen meat products took social media by storm - and what other brands can learn from the phenomenon.

COVID-19: Social media users more likely to believe false information
A new study led by researchers at McGill University finds that people who get their news from social media are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19.

Stemming the spread of misinformation on social media
New research reported in the journal Psychological Science finds that priming people to think about accuracy could make them more discerning in what they subsequently share on social media.

Looking for better customer engagement value? Be more strategic on social media
According to a new study from the University of Vaasa and University of Cyprus, the mere use of social media alone does not generate customer value, but rather, the connections and interactions between the firm and its customers -- as well as among customers themselves -- can be used strategically for resource transformation and exchanges between the interacting parties.

Exploring the use of 'stretchable' words in social media
An investigation of Twitter messages reveals new insights and tools for studying how people use stretched words, such as 'duuuuude,' 'heyyyyy,' or 'noooooooo.' Tyler Gray and colleagues at the University of Vermont in Burlington present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 27, 2020.

How social media platforms can contribute to dehumanizing people
A recent analysis of discourse on Facebook highlights how social media can be used to dehumanize entire groups of people.

Social media influencers could encourage adolescents to follow social distancing guidelines
Public health bodies should consider incentivizing social media influencers to encourage adolescents to follow social distancing guidelines, say researchers.

Social grooming factors influencing social media civility on COVID-19
A new study analyzing tweets about COVID-19 found that users with larger social networks tend to use fewer uncivil remarks when they have more positive responses from others.

Read More: Social Media News and Social Media Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to