Twitter Users Exhibited Positive Coping Behaviours during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Our recent study on the social media platform Twitter found that users were exhibiting positive coping behaviours during the initial lockdown period. Moreover, our sentiment analysis (see Figure 1) showed that from 3/22/2020 to 4/6/2020 positive tweets outnumbered negative tweets. Our study also identified a number of key themes and discussions that were taking place on Twitter during the initial lockdown period.

Figure 1 – Results of Sentiment Analysis

Below you can find our abstract and an author accepted copy of the paper is available on ResearchGate.

ABSTRACT

Purpose: Using data from Twitter, the purpose of this paper is to assess the coping behaviour and reactions of social media users in response to the initial days of the COVID-19-related lockdown in different parts of the world.

Design/methodology/approach: This study follows the quasi-inductive approach which allows the development of pre-categories from other theories before the sampling and coding processes begin, for use in those processes. Data was extracted using relevant keywords from Twitter, and a sample was drawn from the Twitter data set to ensure the data is more manageable from a qualitative research standpoint and that meaningful interpretations can be drawn from the data analysis results. The data analysis is discussed in two parts: extraction and classification of data from Twitter using automated sentiment analysis; and qualitative data analysis of a smaller Twitter data sample.

Findings: This study found that during the lockdown the majority of users on Twitter shared positive opinions towards the lockdown. The results also found that people are keeping themselves engaged and entertained. Governments around the world have also gained support from Twitter users. This is despite the hardships being faced by citizens. The authors also found a number of users expressing negative sentiments. The results also found that several users on Twitter were fence-sitters and their opinions and emotions could swing either way depending on how the pandemic progresses and what action is taken by governments around the world.

Research limitations/implications: The authors add to the body of literature that has examined Twitter discussions around H1N1 using in-depth qualitative methods and conspiracy theories around COVID-19. In the long run, the government can help citizens develop routines that help the community adapt to a new dangerous environment – this has very effectively been shown in the context of wildfires in the context of disaster management. In the context of this research, the dominance of the positive themes within tweets is promising for policymakers and governments around the world. However, sentiments may wish to be monitored going forward as large-spikes in negative sentiment may highlight lockdown-fatigue. Social implications The psychology of humans during a pandemic can have a profound impact on how COVID-19 shapes up, and this shall also include how people behave with other people and with the larger environment. Lockdowns are the opposite of what societies strive to achieve, i.e. socializing.

Originality/value: This study is based on original Twitter data collected during the initial days of the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The topic of “lockdowns” and the “COVID-19” pandemic have not been studied together thus far. This study is highly topical.

New output: Twitter dialogue: an analysis of Pakistani politicians’ information sharing

person holding gray video camera near green leaf plant during daytime
Image Credit and Original Source Here

Social media became a great platform for people to interact with their friends and family. Politicians have also been using social media as a way to connect with voters which has helped many citizens stay interested in what is happening in government. It also helps major political parties engage directly with the people, without high cost barriers.

Politicians can now speak to the people who their policies affect the most. Politicians are able to engage directly with constituents and followers. This allows politicians more freedom to address issues that arise regularly on social media. They also allow politicians to keep in touch with their followers and supporters, which is very important for any politician in the 21st century.

Although there has been a burst of research conducted on social media usage by political parties and figures in developed countries there has been a lack of empirical research that has examined developing countries.

We recently published a study which aimed to “explore the information-sharing patterns of Pakistani politicians through Twitter accounts during the pre-election campaign of 2018”.

You can find the full abstract below as well as a link to the paper on ResearchGate.

Purpose: The use of Twitter by political parties and politicians has been well studied in developed countries. However, there is a lack of empirical work, which has examined the use of Twitter in developing countries. This study aims to explore the information-sharing patterns of Pakistani politicians through Twitter accounts during the pre-election campaign of 2018.

Design/methodology/approach: Data of three weeks of the official party accounts and the politicians running for prime minister were analysed. The mixed-methods approach has been used to analyse quantitative and qualitative data retrieved through Twitonomy.

Findings: It was found that the most active Twitter account belonged to the winning party. The prominent Twitter account functions were a call to vote, promotional Tweets, promises and Tweeting about party developments. The present study provides evidence that there is a difference between the Tweeting behaviour of established and emerging parties. The emerging party heavily posted about changing traditional norms/culture/practices.

Practical implications: The study contributed to existing knowledge and has practical implications for politicians, citizens and social media planners.

Originality/value: The present study was designed carefully and based on empirical research. The study is unique in its nature to fill the research and knowledge gap by adding a variety of Twitter functions used by politicians.

Be sure to check out the full paper here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350645435_Twitter_dialogue_an_analysis_of_Pakistani_politicians’_information_sharing

Full reference:

Batool, S. H., Ahmed, W., Mahmood, K., & Saeed, H. (2021). Twitter dialogue: an analysis of Pakistani politicians’ information sharing. Information Discovery and Delivery.

Who are the key users and what are the key topics on Twitter related to wearing masks during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Our paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health examined discussions related to masks on Twitter from 27 June 2020 to 4 July 2020. You can view our paper here.

Check out more about our study below:

Abstract

Background: High compliance in wearing a mask is a crucial factor for stopping the transmission of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, social media has been a key communication channel for citizens. This study focused on analyzing content from Twitter related to masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Twitter data were collected using the keyword “mask” from 27 June 2020 to 4 July 2020. The total number of tweets gathered were n = 452,430. A systematic random sample of 1% (n = 4525) of tweets was analyzed using social network analysis. NodeXL (Social Media Research Foundation, California, CA, USA) was used to identify users ranked influential by betweenness centrality and was used to identify key hashtags and content.

Results: The overall shape of the network resembled a community network because there was a range of users conversing amongst each other in different clusters. It was found that a range of accounts were influential and/or mentioned within the network. These ranged from ordinary citizens, politicians, and popular culture figures. The most common theme and popular hashtags to emerge from the data encouraged the public to wear masks.

Conclusion: Towards the end of June 2020, Twitter was utilized by the public to encourage others to wear masks and discussions around masks included a wide range of users

You can view the full paper here: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/21/8235/htm

Disaster relief in China: what’s the public’s awareness of insurance and willingness to participate in disaster relief efforts?

Our latest research published in the journal Natural Hazards examined disaster relief in China, the paper can be accessed here.

Below you can find an overview of our study and results.

Abstract

Meteorological disasters frequently occur in China and around the world. These natural hazards can cause huge economic losses and threaten the personal safety of citizens. The public’s willingness to engage with disaster relief efforts and the degree of participation is critical to reduce the impact of such disasters.

This study conducted a survey with 62,903 respondents from China. The study utilized statistical analysis and correlation analysis in order to understand the differences and similarities of the public’s willingness to take part in disaster relief across gender and age.

The study found that:

(1) the public’s awareness of insurance and willingness to make donations during climate disasters is low, and that more than half of the public are only willing to insure for very less money;

(2) although the public has very high enthusiasm to participate in disaster relief, they are less willing to learn the basic skills of reducing disasters and for participating in training for disaster reduction as volunteers. This was especially the case for elderly citizens and females;

(3) the willingness of the public to prevent and reduce disasters is high, and this was the case across various gender and age groups. Finally, the study puts forward several measures to improve the uptake of disaster relief and disaster prevention among citizens.

Be sure to check out our paper here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11069-021-04538-7#citeas

COVID-19 Misinformation: Research Collection

There has been a lot of false and malicious information shared related to COVID-19.

We have been conducting research related to a number of different conspiracies. Below you can find an overview of some of the work we’ve done around COVID-19 misinformation.

COVID-19 and the 5G Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data

Four experts investigate how the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory began

COVID-19 and the “Film Your Hospital” Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data

‘Film Your Hospital’ – the anatomy of a COVID-19 conspiracy theory

New Output in LSE Business Review

Brands support #BlackLivesMatter on social media, but what’s missing?

Companies must make data public on the internal distribution of ethnic minorities by salary band, write Wasim Ahmed and Wasim Rehman

Be sure to check out our full article here: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/10/30/brands-support-blacklivesmatter-on-social-media-but-whats-missing/

Three Recent Papers Published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

Below you can find an overview of 3 papers that we recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research:

3. COVID-19 and the “Film Your Hospital” Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data (https://www.jmir.org/2020/10/e22374)

2. Public Disclosure on Social Media of Identifiable Patient Information by Health Professionals: Content Analysis of Twitter Data (https://www.jmir.org/2020/9/e19746/)

1. COVID-19 and the 5G Conspiracy Theory: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Data (https://www.jmir.org/2020/5/e19458/)

Ethics and Privacy: Social Media Use by Healthcare Professionals

Respecting patient privacy and confidentiality is critical for doctor-patient relationships and public trust in medical professionals. However, during online viral campaigns and sharing in the online world nurses, physicians as well as other healthcare professionals may inadvertently disclose more information that might be expected from both patients and families.

One of the dangers of sharing information publicly on social media is that information can be shared in seconds but it can be difficult to completely remove content once it is out there. Viral tweets, for instance, might get tagged in news articles or printed in journals which could pose a challenge in having the content removed.

In our latest paper for the Journal of Medical Internet Research we studied the hashtag #ShareAStoryInOneTweet with the aim of  quantifying potentially identifiable content shared on social media by physicians and other health care providers.

To quote our abstract we found that:

Health care professionals (n=656) disclosing information about others included 486 doctors (74.1%) and 98 nurses (14.9%). Health care professionals sharing stories about patient care disclosed the time frame in 95 tweets (95/754, 12.6%) and included patient names in 15 tweets (15/754, 2.0%). It is estimated that friends or families could likely identify the clinical scenario described in 242 of the 754 tweets (32.1%). Among 348 tweets about potentially living patients, it was estimated that 162 (46.6%) were likely identifiable by patients. Intercoder reliability in rating the potential identifiability demonstrated 86.8% agreement, with a Cohen κ of 0.8 suggesting substantial agreement. We also identified 78 out of 754 tweets (6.5%) that had been deleted on the website but were still viewable in the analytics software data set.”

Be sure to check out our paper here: https://www.jmir.org/2020/9/e19746/

New Output in Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Zika Outbreak of 2016 Insights from Twitter

Abstract

An outbreak of the Zika virus in 2016 caused great concern among the general public and generated a burst of tweets. The aim of this study was to develop a better understanding of the types of discussions taking place. Tweets were retrieved from the peak of the Zika outbreak (as identified by Google Trends). Tweets were then filtered and entered in NVivo to be analysed using thematic analysis. It was found that tweets on Zika revolved around seven key themes: pregnancy, travel and the Olympics, mosquitoes and conspiracy, health organisations, health information, travel and tracking, and general discussions around Zika. Our results are likely to be of interest to public health organisations disseminating information related to future outbreaks of Zika and we develop a set of preliminary recommendations for health authorities.

Check out the full paper here:
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-49576-3_32