Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2452-0063
  • E-ISSN: 2452-0071
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In an effort to understand the legislative agenda setting impacts of social media content, the present study analyzes political discourse on Twitter regarding the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Using a Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic model to dissect the Twitter conversation aimed at Representative Karen Bass, the sponsor of the H.R.7120, in the weeks leading up to the bill’s filing, our analysis of nearly 68,000 tweets posted in the days before the bill’s filing reveals that constituents strongly urged the Representative to work on legislation targeted on police reform – offering evidence of how constituents demanded, and drove, legislative action. Considering our findings, we argue that there is considerable potential for social media to serve as an amplifier of social issues and concerns among constituents. Through this process, we posit that social media can prove to be a vital catalyst in social justice reform.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Barberá, P., Casas, A., Nagler, J., Egan, P. J., Bonneau, R., Jost, J. T., & Tucker, J. A.
    (2019) Who leads? Who follows? Measuring issue attention and agenda setting by legislators and the mass public using social media data. American Political Science Review, 113(4), 883–901. 10.1017/S0003055419000352
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055419000352 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bastani, K., Namavari, H., & Shaffer, J.
    (2019) Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) for topic modeling of the CFPB consumer complaints. Expert Systems with Applications, 127, 256–271. 10.1016/j.eswa.2019.03.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eswa.2019.03.001 [Google Scholar]
  3. Carney, N.
    (2016) All lives matter, but so does race: Black lives matter and the evolving role of social media. Humanity & Society, 40(2), 180–199. 10.1177/0160597616643868
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0160597616643868 [Google Scholar]
  4. Chong, M.
    (2019) Connective Power of the Twitter Networks: Discovering the Reverse Agenda-Setting Effects of Hashtag Activism Through Topic Modeling. 82nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science & Technology, 629–630. 10.1002/pra2.113
    https://doi.org/10.1002/pra2.113 [Google Scholar]
  5. Conway, B. A., Kenski, K., & Wang, D.
    (2015) The rise of Twitter in the political campaign: Searching for intermedia agenda-setting effects in the presidential primary. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(4), 363–380. 10.1111/jcc4.12124
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12124 [Google Scholar]
  6. Enli, G., & Simonsen, C.
    (2017) ‘Social media logic’ meets professional norms: Twitter hashtags usage by journalists and politicians. Information, Communication & Society,   10.1080/1369118X.2017.1301515
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1301515 [Google Scholar]
  7. Enjolras, B., Steen-Johnsen, K., & Wollebaek, D.
    (2013) Social media and mobilization to offline demonstrations: Transcending participatory divides?. New Media & Society, 15(6), 890–908. 10.1177/1461444812462844
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444812462844 [Google Scholar]
  8. Evans, H. K., Cordova, V., & Sipole, S.
    (2014) Twitter style: An analysis of how house candidates used Twitter in their 2012 campaigns. Political Science & Politics, 47(2), 454. 10.1017/S1049096514000389
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096514000389 [Google Scholar]
  9. Feezell, J. T.
    (2018) Agenda setting through social media: The importance of incidental news exposure and social filtering in the digital era. Political Research Quarterly, 71(2), 482–494. 10.1177/1065912917744895
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912917744895 [Google Scholar]
  10. Freelon, D., McIlwain, C. D., & Clark, M.
    (2016) Beyond the hashtags:# Ferguson,# Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice. Center for Media & Social Impact, American University, Forthcoming. 10.2139/ssrn.2747066
    https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2747066 [Google Scholar]
  11. Gans, H. J.
    (1979) Deciding what’s news: A study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News. Newsweek, and Time. New York: Pantheon, 2–3.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Gervais, B. T., Evans, H. K., & Russell, A.
    (2020) Fear and loathing on Twitter: Exploring negative rhetoric in tweets during the 2018 midterm election. InThe Roads to Congress 2018 (pp.31–52). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 10.1007/978‑3‑030‑19819‑0_3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-19819-0_3 [Google Scholar]
  13. Golan, G., & Wanta, W.
    (2001) Second-level agenda setting in the New Hampshire primary: A comparison of coverage in three newspapers and public perceptions of candidates. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 78(2), 247–259. 10.1177/107769900107800203
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900107800203 [Google Scholar]
  14. Guo, L., & Vargo, C.
    (2015) The power of message networks: A big-data analysis of the network agenda setting model and issue ownership. Mass Communication and Society, 18(5), 557–576. 10.1080/15205436.2015.1045300
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2015.1045300 [Google Scholar]
  15. Harder, R. A., Sevenans, J., & Van Aelst, P.
    (2017) Intermedia agenda setting in the social media age: How traditional players dominate the news agenda in election times. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 22(3), 275–293. 10.1177/1940161217704969
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161217704969 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hemphill, L., Russell, A., & Schöpke-Gonzalez, A. M.
    (2020) What Drives US Congressional Members’ Policy Attention on Twitter?. Policy & Internet.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Kilgo, D. K., & Harlow, S.
    (2019) Protests, media coverage, and a hierarchy of social struggle. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 24(4), 508–530. 10.1177/1940161219853517
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161219853517 [Google Scholar]
  18. Lopez-Escobar, E., Llamas, J. P., & McCombs, M.
    (1998) Agenda setting and community consensus: First and second level effects. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 10(4), 335–348. 10.1093/ijpor/10.4.335
    https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/10.4.335 [Google Scholar]
  19. McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L.
    (1972) The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36(2), 176–187. 10.1086/267990
    https://doi.org/10.1086/267990 [Google Scholar]
  20. Nair, P., & Sharma, S.
    (2017) Reverse agenda-setting: Politics in the time of facebook. Mainstream Weekly, 33.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Park, C.
    (2013) Does Twitter motivate involvement in politics? Tweeting, opinion leadership, and political engagement. Computers in Human Behavior. 29(4), 1641–1648. 10.1016/j.chb.2013.01.044
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.01.044 [Google Scholar]
  22. Pew Research Center
    Pew Research Center (2018) Public attitudes toward political engagement on social media. Retrieved fromhttps://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/07/11/public-attitudes-toward-political-engagement-on-social-media/
  23. Pew Research Center
    Pew Research Center (2019) State of the news media methodology. Retrieved fromwww.journalism.org/2018/07/25/state-of-the-news-media-methodology/
  24. Russell, A.
    (2018) The politics of prioritization: Senators’ attention in 140 characters. InThe Forum (Vol.16, No.2, pp.331–356). De Gruyter. 10.1515/for‑2018‑0020
    https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2018-0020 [Google Scholar]
  25. Schradie, J.
    (2019) The revolution that wasn’t: How digital activism favors conservatives. Harvard University Press. 10.4159/9780674240438
    https://doi.org/10.4159/9780674240438 [Google Scholar]
  26. Tan, Y., & Weaver, D. H.
    (2009) Local media, public opinion, and state legislative policies: Agenda setting at the state level. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 14(4), 454–476. 10.1177/1940161209336225
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161209336225 [Google Scholar]
  27. Trifiro, B., & Zhang, Y.
    (2021) Media vs. Candidates and Minorities vs. Majorities: Who sets the public’s agenda in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary?The Agenda Setting Journal. 10.1075/asj.20009.tri
    https://doi.org/10.1075/asj.20009.tri [Google Scholar]
  28. Valenzuela, S.
    (2013) Unpacking the use of social media for protest behavior: The roles of information, opinion expression, and activism. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(7), 920–942. 10.1177/0002764213479375
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764213479375 [Google Scholar]
  29. Vliegenthart, R., & Walgrave, S.
    (2011) When the media matter for politics: Partisan moderators of the mass media’s agenda-setting influence on parliament in Belgium. Party Politics, 17(3), 321–342. 10.1177/1354068810366016
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068810366016 [Google Scholar]
  30. Walgrave, S., & Vliegenthart, R.
    (2012) The complex agenda-setting power of protest: Demonstrations, media, parliament, government, and legislation in Belgium, 1993–2000. Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 17(2), 129–156. 10.17813/maiq.17.2.pw053m281356572h
    https://doi.org/10.17813/maiq.17.2.pw053m281356572h [Google Scholar]
  31. Zhang, Y., Wells, C., Wang, S., & Rohe, K.
    (2018) Attention and amplification in the hybrid media system: The composition and activity of Donald Trump’s Twitter following during the 2016 presidential election. New Media & Society, 20(9), 3161–3182. 10.1177/1461444817744390
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817744390 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error