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1.
Inf Process Manag ; 59(4): 102990, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1867287

ABSTRACT

Documenting the emergent social representations of COVID-19 in public communication is necessary for critically reflecting on pandemic responses and providing guidance for global pandemic recovery policies and practices. This study documents the dynamics of changing social representations of the COVID-19 pandemic on one of the largest Chinese social media, Weibo, from December 2019 to April 2020. We draw on the social representation theory (SRT) and conceptualize topics and topic networks as a form of social representation. We analyzed a dataset of 40 million COVID-19 related posts from 9.7 million users (including the general public, opinion leaders, and organizations) using machine learning methods. We identified 12 topics and found an expansion in social representations of COVID-19 from a clinical and epidemiological perspective to a broader perspective that integrated personal illness experiences with economic and sociopolitical discourses. Discussions about COVID-19 science did not take a prominent position in the representations, suggesting a lack of effective science and risk communication. Further, we found the strongest association of social representations existed between the public and opinion leaders and the organizations' representations did not align much with the other two groups, suggesting a lack of organizations' influence in public representations of COVID-19 on social media in China.

2.
Public Underst Sci ; 30(5): 570-587, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1789077

ABSTRACT

This study examines discourses in Chinese online discussions of gene editing by multiple social actors on Weibo before and after a significant scientific crisis, the 2018 scandal of Chinese gene-edited human babies. A content analysis of 2074 posts was done to identify frames, emotions, and metaphors. Findings reveal that Chinese social media have opened up new spaces for multiple social actors to generate multiple discourses. This has resulted in a more participatory public engagement with science and technology on Chinese social media, potentially influencing the online agenda and policy decisions on science and technology. Finally, findings indicate that a scientific crisis can serve as a trigger for significant changes in public attitudes and opinions regarding gene editing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Social Media , China , Gene Editing , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
3.
Digit Health ; 8: 20552076221085061, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1759668

ABSTRACT

Various studies have explored the underlying mechanisms that enhance the overall reach of a support-seeking message on social media networks. However, little attention has been paid to an under-examined structural feature of help-seeking message diffusion, information diffusion depth, and how support-seeking messages can traverse vertically into social media networks to reach other users who are not directly connected to the help-seeker. Using the multilevel regression to analyze 705 help-seeking posts regarding COVID-19 on Sina Weibo, we examined sender, content, and environmental factors to investigate what makes help-seeking messages traverse deeply into social media networks. Results suggested that bandwagon cues, anger, instrumental appeal, and intermediate self-disclosure facilitate the diffusion depth of help-seeking messages. However, the effects of these factors were moderated by the epidemic severity. Implications of the findings on support-seeking behavior and narrative strategies on social media were also discussed.

4.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-321321

ABSTRACT

Can public social media data be harnessed to predict COVID-19 case counts? We analyzed approximately 15 million COVID-19 related posts on Weibo, a popular Twitter-like social media platform in China, from November 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. We developed a machine learning classifier to identify "sick posts," which are reports of one's own and other people's symptoms and diagnosis related to COVID-19. We then modeled the predictive power of sick posts and other COVID-19 posts on daily case counts. We found that reports of symptoms and diagnosis of COVID-19 significantly predicted daily case counts, up to 14 days ahead of official statistics. But other COVID-19 posts did not have similar predictive power. For a subset of geotagged posts (3.10% of all retrieved posts), we found that the predictive pattern held true for both Hubei province and the rest of mainland China, regardless of unequal distribution of healthcare resources and outbreak timeline. Researchers and disease control agencies should pay close attention to the social media infosphere regarding COVID-19. On top of monitoring overall search and posting activities, it is crucial to sift through the contents and efficiently identify true signals from noise.

5.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-312661

ABSTRACT

With the rapid development of COVID-19 around the world, people are requested to maintain "social distance" and "stay at home". In this scenario, extensive social interactions transfer to cyberspace, especially on social media platforms like Twitter and Sina Weibo. People generate posts to share information, express opinions and seek help during the pandemic outbreak, and these kinds of data on social media are valuable for studies to prevent COVID-19 transmissions, such as early warning and outbreaks detection. Therefore, in this paper, we release a novel and fine-grained large-scale COVID-19 social media dataset collected from Sina Weibo, named Weibo-COV, contains more than 40 million posts ranging from December 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020. Moreover, this dataset includes comprehensive information nuggets like post-level information, interactive information, location information, and repost network. We hope this dataset can promote studies of COVID-19 from multiple perspectives and enable better and rapid researches to suppress the spread of this pandemic.

6.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-308205

ABSTRACT

This paper studies conspiracy and debunking narratives about COVID-19 origination on a major Chinese social media platform, Weibo, from January to April 2020. Popular conspiracies about COVID-19 on Weibo, including that the virus is human-synthesized or a bioweapon, differ substantially from those in the US. They attribute more responsibility to the US than to China, especially following Sino-US confrontations. Compared to conspiracy posts, debunking posts are associated with lower user participation but higher mobilization. Debunking narratives can be more engaging when they come from women and influencers and cite scientists. Our findings suggest that conspiracy narratives can carry highly cultural and political orientations. Correction efforts should consider political motives and identify important stakeholders to reconstruct international dialogues toward intercultural understanding.

7.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-325433

ABSTRACT

Background: The outbreak and rapid spread of COVID-19 not only caused an adverse impact on physical health but also brought about mental health problems among the public. Methods: . To assess the causal impact of COVID-19 on psychological changes in China, we constructed a city-level panel data set based on the expressed sentiment in the contents of 13 million geotagged tweets on Sina Weibo, the Chinese largest microblog platform. Results: . Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we found a significant deterioration in mental health status after the occurrence of COVID-19. We also observed that this psychological effect faded out over time during our study period and was more pronounced among women, teenagers and older adults. The mental health impact was more likely to be observed in cities with low levels of initial mental health status, economic development, medical resources, and social security. Conclusions: . Our findings may assist the understanding of COVID-19’s mental health impact and yield useful insights on how to make effective psychological interventions in this kind of sudden public health event.

8.
Telemat Inform ; 65: 101712, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401890

ABSTRACT

The development and uptake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccine is a top priority in stifling the COVID-19 pandemic. How the public perceives the COVID-19 vaccine is directly associated with vaccine compliance and vaccination coverage. This study takes a cultural sensitivity perspective and adopts two well-known social media platforms in the United States (Twitter) and China (Weibo) to conduct a public perception comparison around the COVID-19 vaccine. By implementing semantic network analysis, results demonstrate that the two countries' social media users overlapped in themes concerning domestic vaccination policies, priority groups, challenges from COVID-19 variants, and the global pandemic situation. However, Twitter users were prone to disclose individual vaccination experiences, express anti-vaccine attitudes. In comparison, Weibo users manifested evident deference to authorities and exhibited more positive feelings toward the COVID-19 vaccine. Those disparities were explained by the cultural characteristics' differences between the two countries. The findings provide insights into comprehending public health issues in cross-cultural contexts and illustrate the potential of utilizing social media to conduct health informatics studies and investigate public perceptions during public health crisis time.

9.
PLoS One ; 16(5): e0252062, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1241126

ABSTRACT

Transparency of Chinese media coverage became an international controversy when the COVID-19 outbreak initially emerged in Wuhan, the eventual crisis epicenter in China. Unlike studies characterizing mass media in authoritarian contexts as government mouthpieces during a crisis, this study aims to disaggregate Chinese media practices to uncover differences in when, where, and how the severity of COVID-19 was reported. We examine differences in how media institutions reported the severity of the COVID-19 epidemic in China during the pre-crisis period from 1 January 2020 to 20 January 2020 in terms of both the "vertical" or hierarchical positions of media institutions in the Chinese media ecosystem and the "horizontal" positions of media institutions' social proximity to Wuhan in terms of geographical human traffic flows. We find that the coverage of crisis severity is negatively associated with the media's social proximity to Wuhan, but the effect varies depending on the positional prominence of a news article and situation severity. Implications of the institutions' differentiated reporting strategies on future public health reporting in an authoritarian context are also discussed.


Subject(s)
Access to Information , COVID-19/epidemiology , China , Disclosure/legislation & jurisprudence , Disclosure/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Mass Media/legislation & jurisprudence , Mass Media/statistics & numerical data , Models, Statistical , Political Systems
10.
Psychol Med ; : 1-8, 2021 Apr 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1193554

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) not only caused an adverse impact on physical health, but also brought about mental health problems among the public. METHODS: To assess the causal impact of COVID-19 on psychological changes in China, we constructed a city-level panel data set based on the expressed sentiment in the contents of 13 million geotagged tweets on Sina Weibo, the Chinese largest microblog platform. RESULTS: Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we found a significant deterioration in mental health status after the occurrence of COVID-19. We also observed that this psychological effect faded out over time during our study period and was more pronounced among women, teenagers and older adults. The mental health impact was more likely to be observed in cities with low levels of initial mental health status, economic development, medical resources and social security. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings may assist in the understanding of mental health impact of COVID-19 and yield useful insights into how to make effective psychological interventions in this kind of sudden public health event.

11.
PLoS One ; 15(11): e0241465, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-902053

ABSTRACT

The past nine months witnessed COVID-19's fast-spreading at the global level. Limited by medical resources shortage and uneven facilities distribution, online help-seeking becomes an essential approach to cope with public health emergencies for many ordinaries. This study explores the driving forces behind the retransmission of online help-seeking posts. We built an analytical framework that emphasized content characteristics, including information completeness, proximity, support seeking type, disease severity, and emotion of help-seeking messages. A quantitative content analysis was conducted with a probability sample consisting of 727 posts. The results illustrate the importance of individual information completeness, high proximity, instrumental support seeking. This study also demonstrates slight inconformity with the severity principle but stresses the power of anger in help-seeking messages dissemination. As one of the first online help-seeking diffusion analyses in the COVID-19 period, our research provides a reference for constructing compelling and effective help-seeking posts during a particular period. It also reveals further possibilities for harnessing social media's power to promote reciprocal and cooperative actions as a response to this deepening global concern.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/psychology , Information Dissemination , Information Seeking Behavior , Online Systems , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/psychology , Social Media , Social Support , COVID-19 , China/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Emergencies/psychology , Humans , Public Health
12.
J Med Internet Res ; 22(5): e19421, 2020 May 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-401450

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. This disease poses an extraordinary challenge for public health systems because screening and surveillance capacity is often severely limited, especially during the beginning of the outbreak; this can fuel the outbreak, as many patients can unknowingly infect other people. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to collect and analyze posts related to COVID-19 on Weibo, a popular Twitter-like social media site in China. To our knowledge, this infoveillance study employs the largest, most comprehensive, and most fine-grained social media data to date to predict COVID-19 case counts in mainland China. METHODS: We built a Weibo user pool of 250 million people, approximately half the entire monthly active Weibo user population. Using a comprehensive list of 167 keywords, we retrieved and analyzed around 15 million COVID-19-related posts from our user pool from November 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. We developed a machine learning classifier to identify "sick posts," in which users report their own or other people's symptoms and diagnoses related to COVID-19. Using officially reported case counts as the outcome, we then estimated the Granger causality of sick posts and other COVID-19 posts on daily case counts. For a subset of geotagged posts (3.10% of all retrieved posts), we also ran separate predictive models for Hubei province, the epicenter of the initial outbreak, and the rest of mainland China. RESULTS: We found that reports of symptoms and diagnosis of COVID-19 significantly predicted daily case counts up to 14 days ahead of official statistics, whereas other COVID-19 posts did not have similar predictive power. For the subset of geotagged posts, we found that the predictive pattern held true for both Hubei province and the rest of mainland China regardless of the unequal distribution of health care resources and the outbreak timeline. CONCLUSIONS: Public social media data can be usefully harnessed to predict infection cases and inform timely responses. Researchers and disease control agencies should pay close attention to the social media infosphere regarding COVID-19. In addition to monitoring overall search and posting activities, leveraging machine learning approaches and theoretical understanding of information sharing behaviors is a promising approach to identify true disease signals and improve the effectiveness of infoveillance.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Public Health Surveillance , Public Health/methods , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , China/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/physiopathology , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Information Dissemination , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/physiopathology , SARS-CoV-2
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