Analyzing polarization in social media: Method and application to tweets on 21 mass shootings

Dorottya Demszky, Nikhil Garg, Rob Voigt, James Zou, Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse Shapiro, Dan Jurafsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We provide an NLP framework to uncover four linguistic dimensions of political polarization in social media: topic choice, framing, affect and illocutionary force. We quantify these aspects with existing lexical methods, and propose clustering of tweet embeddings as a means to identify salient topics for analysis across events; human evaluations show that our approach generates more cohesive topics than traditional LDA-based models. We apply our methods to study 4.4M tweets on 21 mass shootings. We provide evidence that the discussion of these events is highly polarized politically and that this polarization is primarily driven by partisan differences in framing rather than topic choice. We identify framing devices, such as grounding and the contrasting use of the terms “terrorist” and “crazy”, that contribute to polarization. Results pertaining to topic choice, affect and illocutionary force suggest that Republicans focus more on the shooter and event-specific facts (news) while Democrats focus more on the victims and call for policy changes. Our work contributes to a deeper understanding of the way group divisions manifest in language and to computational methods for studying them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLong and Short Papers
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Pages2970-3005
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9781950737130
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, NAACL HLT 2019 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 2 2019Jun 7 2019

Publication series

NameNAACL HLT 2019 - 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies - Proceedings of the Conference
Volume1

Conference

Conference2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, NAACL HLT 2019
CountryUnited States
CityMinneapolis
Period6/2/196/7/19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Linguistics and Language

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