Black social media users talk about race much more than white users

A protester and motorist shout as demonstrators blocked South Florissant Avenue outside the Ferguson Police Department, on Nov. 24, 2015, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Image: Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Current events drive plenty of race-related conversation on social media, but many of those conversations are still divided, according to a new Pew Research Center study released Monday.

Social media has provided a home for much of America’s discourse about race in the country. From Black Twitter to prominent hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson and #OscarsSoWhite, Twitter especially has provided a way for social media users to boost awareness around issues of race.

But, in data gathered from Twitter for a 15-month period beginning in January 2015, and in a survey of 3,769 adult Americans, Pew researchers found that many of those conversations are still segregated along racial lines.

We broke down some of the numbers and the most interesting findings, below.

Black people are twice as likely to say they see race-related posts on social media

In this photo taken on Aug. 12, 2015, Tamar Hodges, left, chants “Black Lives Matter” with fellow protestors.

Image: Don Shrubshell/The Columbia Daily Tribune via AP

Around 68 percent of black people who use social media say they see posts about race and relations on their social media feeds, and 28 percent of them say they tweet and post about race as well.

Only 35 percent of white social media users say they see race-related posts, and just eight percent tweet or post about race.

Black people use social media to talk about race more than others

Protesters march through downtown Chicago in response to the shooting of teenager Paul O’Neal and other police brutality, on Aug. 7.

Image: Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto

While close to a third of black social media users tweet and post about race, around two-thirds of white social media users “say they never post or share things about race,” according to the study.

Around 20 percent of Hispanic social media users say they post and tweet about race.

The South Carolina mass shooting started more race-related conversation than any other event

Aisha Muhammad embraces Dawn Hill outside Emanuel AME Church on June 29, 2015.

Image: Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP

A mass-shooting by a white supremacist at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, led to the most race-related tweets in a single day during the 15-month period for which the study gathered data.

That day was June 18, the day after the shooting, which makes sense when you consider the shooting happened at night on the east coast. Twitter users sent around 4.3 million race-related tweets on the 18th, and 2.1 million race-related tweets the day before.

Most race conversations relate to news

Youth activists led a Black Lives Matter protest around downtown Chicago with over 1,000 participants in Chicago on July 11, 2016. (Photo by Max Herman/NurPhoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

Image: Max Herman/NurPhoto/Sipa USA

Pew found that race-related conversations intersect with plenty of other topics, from users’ everyday experiences to pop culture to the day’s biggest headlines.

But news dominated conversation around race. Pew tracked almost 1 billion race-related tweets during that 15-month period, and 60 percent of them keyed off race-related headlines and current events.

#BlackLivesMatter is more common than #AllLivesMatter

In this July 8 photo, a man holds up a sign during a protest of shootings by police, at the White House.

Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

#BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter are often thought of as dueling hashtags, though the data collected by Pew shows that #AllLivesMatter generally begins to take off only after users begin to tweet #BlackLivesMatter.

Social media users tweeted #BlackLivesMatter 11.8 million times in that 15-month period, while they tweeted #AllLivesMatter 1.5 million times over the same span.

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