Vanessa Lynn Kitzie, Debanjan Ghosh
Rutgers University, United States of America

Monday, November 9, 3:30pm

On December 3, 2014, after a grand jury decided not to indict the white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, the social networking platform Twitter was flooded with tweets sharing stances on racial profiling and police brutality. To examine how issues concerning race were communicated and exchanged during this time, this study compares differences between tweets using two trending hashtags #CrimingWhileWhite (#cww) and #AliveWhileBlack (#awb) from December 3 through December 11, 2014. To this end, network and content analysis are used on a large dataset of tweets containing the hashtags #awb and #cww. Findings indicate that there are clear differences, both structurally and in linguistic style, between how individuals express themselves based on which hashtag they used. Specifically, we found that #cww users disproportionately shared informational content, which may have led to the hashtag gaining more network volume and attention as a trending topic than #awb. In contrast, #awb tweets tended to be more subjective, expressing a sense of community and strong negative sentiment toward persistent structural racism.