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Title: COVID-19: Social Media Sources of Authority During a Global Pandemic
Since the start of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, social media platforms have been filled with discussions about the global health crisis. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the importance of seeking credible sources of information on social media regarding COVID-19. In this study, we conducted an in-depth analysis of Twitter posts about COVID-19 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to identify influential sources of COVID-19 information and understand the characteristics of these sources. We identified influential accounts based on an information diffusion network representing the interactions of Twitter users who discussed COVID-19 in the United States over a 24-h period. The network analysis revealed 11 influential accounts that we categorized as: 1) political authorities (elected government officials), 2) news organizations, and 3) personal accounts. Our findings showed that while verified accounts with a large following tended to be the most influential users, smaller personal accounts also emerged as influencers. Our analysis revealed that other users often interacted with influential accounts in response to news about COVID-19 cases and strongly contested political arguments received the most interactions overall. These findings suggest that political polarization was a major factor in COVID-19 information diffusion. We discussed the implications of political polarization on social media for COVID-19 communication.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1827700
NSF-PAR ID:
10292124
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
the Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2021)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
289-307
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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