#GunViolence on Instagram and Twitter

Examining Social Media Advocacy in the Wake of the Parkland School Shooting

  • Lucinda Austin University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Jeanine Guidry Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Michele Meyer University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


The February 2018 Parkland school shooting quickly initiated passionate social media response on Twitter and Instagram. Research on the effect of large-scale mass shootings, particularly on social media dialogue, is lacking, at a time when emerging research suggests potential for both driving mass contagion and enhancing risk perceptions for public interest communications. This study examines response to the shooting through a content analysis of Instagram and Twitter. Findings revealed that gun violence advocacy and risk perception variables were present more frequently on Instagram, while Social Ecological Model policy-level factors were observed more frequently on Twitter. Advocacy drove engagement on both platforms; however, anger was associated with higher Instagram engagement. Details of gun violence, associated with potential for mass contagion, drove engagement on both platforms.

Original Research