Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019

Degree

Master of Mass Communication (MMC)

Department

Manship School of Mass Communications

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This study focuses on social justice and how people on Twitter chose to talk about it. The rise of social media has allowed Twitter users to speak more freely in more spaces than one. The study compared two different sexual assault cases between Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Professor Christine Blasey; and Virginia’s Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax and Vanessa Tyson. Applying the social responsibility theory, which allows free press without any censorship, I then can see the tone of which Black Twitter users have when talking about two separate sexual assault cases. This study compares the use of the #BlackTwitter hashtag and #MeToo hashtag while using the social justice-related terms such as gender, race/ethnicity, credibility, sexual assault, privilege, social justice (variable combination of marginalized, equal, and rights) and lgti (variable combination of lying, guilty, truth, and innocent). Furthermore, the study also called for comparison between the Ford’s case when Ford first came forward with sexual assault accusations before the case had a hearing (pre) and after the hearing (post); and Tyson’s assault accusation surfacing (pre) and after she made her first public appearance (post). In this study, a content analysis survey method was used to assess how blacks express public opinion via twitter to find that blacks use the #BlackTwitter to discuss social justice issues. Individually, the Twitter community as a whole played it safe by only talking about social justice issues moderately on and off Twitter for the Ford case.

For Tyson’s case, Black Twitter users talked about social justice more significantly. This study showed hot two different movements can work toward a similar goal. Both Ford and Tyson’s cases allowed marginalized groups and movements such as the MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter movement to create an alliance for the greater good of sexual assault victims. Additionally, there are several social media platforms this study could have used to gather results from but using Twitter as the platform has many benefits because Twitter serves as an unofficial platform for an individuals’ freedom of speech. Overall, this study looks at the bigger issue, is not just about protection, it is about the change.

Committee Chair

Nichole Bauer

Available for download on Thursday, October 29, 2020

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