Online Chatter About Gun Control Quiets After Shootings

Mashable
Online Chatter About Gun Control Quiets After Shootings
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The tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo. led to a sudden burst of online conversation about gun control last month -- but that chatter is returning to normal levels despite another attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin over the weekend.

The below chart shows the level of online discussion about gun control across Facebook, Twitter, blog posts and a variety of other social networks plus formal news outlets, all broken down by color. The data runs from the beginning of May through Aug. 7, showing a clear rise in conversation frequency in the immediate aftermath of the Colorado shooting (an earlier spike was caused by a news report about a gun control treaty). Analytics for this report were provided by Attention and Tracx.

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A closer look at the last 30 days of online conversation shows the drop-off in interest to normal levels even more clearly:

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Driving a large swath of the online conversation was a highly shared and commented-upon opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal which suggested that a second Obama term would mean the end of the Second Amendment.

Interestingly, bloggers (above, orange) have been among the social media users most actively discussing gun control, yet there have been few online news reports (above, yellow) on the topic. Perhaps bloggers are in this case living up to their reputation as an alternative to the so-called mainstream media, using their online platform to have a conversation not being held in traditional media forms.

Gun control is generally perceived as a much more salient issue within the United States than in countries elsewhere around the world, and our findings corroborated that: almost all of the online conversation about gun control is happening in the U.S. It's also a male-dominated conversation, with approximately 70% of Internet users posting about the issue being identified as male.

Some politicians, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, attempted to make gun control a political issue in the weeks following the Colorado shooting. Meanwhile, both presidential candidates said they supported the creation of new background checks but did not take a strong political stance on the issue.

Regardless, attempts by Bloomberg and a few others to focus national attention on gun control just haven't resonated online. Other campaign issues, including the economy and health care, have continued to dominate the social conversation around politics:

Why do you think the online conversation around gun control has fallen off in the past few weeks? Share your ideas in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, eldadcarin

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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