by Judeth Oden Choi, James Herbsleb, and Jodi Forlizzi
paper currently under review
Abstract: In this mixed methods study of a grassroots racial justice movement, Justice for Antwon Rose II (J4A), we analyze framing processes which we contextualize within the movement’s communication ecosystem. We find J4A framing processes to be hybrid, evolving through a combination of online and offline interactions and strategic and discursive processes. J4A engaged in three types of hybrid framing processes: strategic, discursive and frame transmission. Due largely to concerns about safety and surveillance, J4A made limited use of Twitter, instead using secure messenger applications and pre-established networks of trust. Using social network analysis, we analyzed the growth of the J4A network and diffusion of movement frames on Twitter. We find a paucity of interaction between activists on Twitter, and instead find a core network of local journalists; suggesting the shifting role of Twitter in grassroots movements.
Excerpt of Twitter social network analysis
J4A organizers, concerned with safety and surveillance, did not use Twitter for coordination or distribution of protest information, preferring more secure and trusted channels. Therefore, there is a paucity of retweeting or mentions between local activists on Twitter. In the vacuum left by the activists, local news agencies and journalists made up the core of the J4A network.
The network of users (linked by retweets, mentions and replies) during he protest period, divide according to local and non-local users (above Figure). This suggests that information being shared among locals may not be reaching non-local audiences. While the local users are densely connected, the majority of those nodes represent local news agencies and journalists (Figure 2). Starburst patterns indicate an account that is highly retweeted or mentioned by others. Two public ﬁgures, not news agencies, are the most highly retweeted not-local users.
The lack of interaction between activists may explain why locally de-veloped frames struggled to have reach on Twitter. Because local jour-nalists and media outlets make up the connected core of the network, they were highly inﬂuential in shaping the narrative of the movement. Non-local public ﬁgures played a key role in amplifying the movement’s message beyond the local sphere.