Moment or Movement Symposium offers discussion on social media and its influence on Baton Rouge’s turbulent summer

BATON ROUGE, LA- Lance Porter discussed the relationship between social media and three turbulent events, which occurred in the summer of 2016, at the Moment or Movement Presidential Symposium discussion Monday at Louisiana State University.

Porter serves as Director of LSU’s Social Media Analysis and Creation Lab, where analysts have the ability to monitor and track social media activity.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a Baton Rouge native was fatally shot.Video soon surfaced in the media and platforms including Twitter and Facebook exploded with videos and people sharing their views on the event.

According to Porter, hashtags are much like “filing cabinets.” The hashtags #AltonSterling and #BlackLivesMatter were trending and soon had Twitter users in a firestorm of both negative and positive comments. After Sterling’s death, protests began to break out in Baton Rouge. On media platforms such as Twitter images and video of the incident and protests began surfacing, gaining large amounts of attention.

Jonathan Bachman’s picture of an unarmed African American woman sparked various emotions from viewers. The woman is standing steadily in the street as two law enforcement officers dressed in black riot gear rush to detain her.

Following Sterlings death, three officers were slain on a highly-traveled public road, sparking a similar reaction response on social media. #BlueLivesMatter became a trending topic on twitter as details of the incident began to surface.

Porter states that the linguistic software Crimson Hexagon, recorded that from July 5th through Oct. 2nd social media posts involving Baton Rouge as a whole showed that while 67 percent of posts were neutral, eight percent were positive and 25 percent were negative. Software like Crimson Hexagon allows experts to view the patterns of user content on social media.

Data obtained from Crimson Hexagon reported that in general more users remained neutral and a smaller percent of posts were negative in regards to the shooting of Alton Sterling.

A short question and answer session revealed that many of the discussion’s attendees still wanted to know what the significance of media analysis is and how it affects us. One member of the audience asked, “Who cares about this stuff?” Porter simply answered back, “The way most young people get their news is through social media.” This would explain why people were so outraged when the Louisiana flood of 2016, the third turbulent event to occur in the summer of 2016, did not receive as much national exposure through traditional media outlets as it should have.

Twitter users utilized their ability to share information and spread awareness, which was more overwhelming than that of national news channels or broadcast stations. This is why discussion sessions, such as Moment or Movement are so import. They raise awareness on topics such as the rapid evolution of the media and how it affects society. Soon platforms such as Twitter will be where the majority of news consumption occurs, as traditional models continue to move towards a social platform.

LSU’s Social Media Analysis and Creation Lab will continue to analyze the movement and evolution of social media as information sharing platforms, with tools such as the software found on Crimson Hexagon. Porter concluded with the statement, “We are just scratching the surface of this topic”


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