About the Presentation:
K-Pop Boy Group BTS’s tweet in support of #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate was the most retweeted tweet of 2021, spawning a million retweets and 2.4 million likes. Using an original dataset of 2.5 million tweets, we utilize Structural Topic Modeling and Word-Shift Graphs to examine how the quantity and content of tweets changed from before to after BTS’s tweet in March 2021. Our original dataset of tweets includes a sample of tweets from the week prior to the Atlanta murders that prompted BTS’s tweet to the week after BTS’s tweet. Following BTS’ tweet, we found a 21% increase in tweets containing the #StopAAPI and #StopAsianHate hashtags. Beyond the hashtags, we also found that the content of the tweets shifted from more passive, descriptive language to action-oriented language. Specific words that were used more frequently included "stand", "BTS", and "discrimination." Similarly, we found that topics about "Standing against Asian hate", "BTS ARMY against Asian hate", and "Stop Asian hate" became more prevalent. Finally, the tweets shifted from the local (LA, Atlanta, US) to the global (“world” and “worldwide”). Combined, these results highlight the influential role of cultural icons in amplifying social messages and carry significant implications for understanding the evolving nature of collective mobilization in the digital era.