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Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Triggered a Twitter Discussion of Hate Crime

Posted by Ying Xiong.

Robert Bowers, armed with multiple weapons, attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, in the morning and resulted in 11 people dead.
Over 1.3 million tweets discussed the shooting from October 27 to October 28.

Among the top 20 frequently mentioned words, some tweets focused on the description of the incident itself, including words such as Tree of Life synagogue and Pittsburgh. Some tweets concentrated on the attribute of the racial conflict of the incident, including Jews, white, and Jewish. Some Twitter users discussed the outcomes of the incident and used words such as victims, murdered, killed,
and terrorist, in their tweets.

In the Twitter discussion, many people considered the shooting case as a hate crime and violence and discussed the situation of Jewish. The other large number of the online discussion focused on Trump’s response after the synagogue shooting, which mentioned that the synagogue would have been prevented if the armed guard on site.

Many individual users acted as influencers among the “on-topic” posts. Blake Hounshell, the Editor-in-Chief of Politico Magazine and a Pittsburgh native, was seen as the most influential person “on-topic” with an influential score 91 out of 100.

After the incident, he tweeted and retweeted 15 tweets about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

Among the 1.3 million on-topic tweets, 85.6% were the negative sentiments. Twitter users expressed their surprise, anger, and critique against the shooter.