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The Response of Governments and Public Health Agencies to COVID-19 Pandemics on Social Media: A Multi-Country Analysis of Twitter Discourse

Li, L; Aldosery, A; Vitiugin, F; Nathan, N; Novillo-Ortiz, D; Castillo, C; Kostkova, P; (2021) The Response of Governments and Public Health Agencies to COVID-19 Pandemics on Social Media: A Multi-Country Analysis of Twitter Discourse. Frontiers in Public Health , 9 , Article 716333. 10.3389/fpubh.2021.716333. Green open access

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Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, information is being rapidly shared by public health experts and researchers through social media platforms. Whilst government policies were disseminated and discussed, fake news and misinformation simultaneously created a corresponding wave of "infodemics." This study analyzed the discourse on Twitter in several languages, investigating the reactions to government and public health agency social media accounts that share policy decisions and official messages. The study collected messages from 21 official Twitter accounts of governments and public health authorities in the UK, US, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and Nigeria, from 15 March to 29 May 2020. Over 2 million tweets in various languages were analyzed using a mixed-methods approach to understand the messages both quantitatively and qualitatively. Using automatic, text-based clustering, five topics were identified for each account and then categorized into 10 emerging themes. Identified themes include political, socio-economic, and population-protection issues, encompassing global, national, and individual levels. A comparison was performed amongst the seven countries analyzed and the United Kingdom (Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England) to find similarities and differences between countries and government agencies. Despite the difference in language, country of origin, epidemiological contexts within the countries, significant similarities emerged. Our results suggest that other than general announcement and reportage messages, the most-discussed topic is evidence-based leadership and policymaking, followed by how to manage socio-economic consequences.

Type: Article
Title: The Response of Governments and Public Health Agencies to COVID-19 Pandemics on Social Media: A Multi-Country Analysis of Twitter Discourse
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.716333
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.716333
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 Li, Aldosery, Vitiugin, Nathan, Novillo-Ortiz, Castillo and Kostkova. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: COVID-19, Twitter, government, public health agencies, public health emergencies, social media, topic modeling, COVID-19, Government, Humans, Pandemics, Public Health, SARS-CoV-2, Social Media
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137141
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