Visual framing and social networking: a content analysis of the 2012 Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Facebook pages

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study is to discover how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were framed visually on Facebook during the 2012 presidential election. Frame theory has been studied in various forms of media. However, this study is the first, to the researcher's knowledge, to use frame theory to analyze Facebook. A content analysis of each candidate's Facebook Timeline Photos album was conducted. The image attributes used for analysis were established in previous research. These attributes were divided into two main categories, the ideal candidate and populist campaigner. The main categories were divided into four subcategories, statesman, compassionate, mass appeal, and ordinariness. There were significant differences between candidates in the subcategories. It appeared to be a main campaign strategy to frame Mitt Romney as a statesman. Many Romney photos were filled with symbols of patriotism and campaign paraphernalia. The Barack Obama campaign appeared to frame Obama as a compassionate candidate. Obama had significantly more photos linked to compassion. While there was no difference in the ordinariness subcategory, there was a difference in the mass appeal subcategory. The Mitt Romney campaign uploaded significantly more photos of Romney in front of large audiences. Obama's photos appeared to be more intimate. Further research should be conducted by expanding the research methods of this study to other political offices and other social networks.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Communication, Political science, Information science