Website content and dynamics shared on vaccine-related tweets in COVID-19 conversations: a computer analysis

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J Med Internet Res. October 2, 2021. doi: 10.2196 / 29127. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The onset of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting “infodemic” heightened concerns about Twitter’s role in promoting anti-vaccination messages, even before it was launched. a vaccine is available to the public. New calculation methods allow cross-platform usage to be analyzed by following links to websites shared on Twitter, which in turn can uncover some of the content and dynamics of news sources and definition processes of the agenda. Such an understanding can advance theory and efforts to reduce misinformation.

OBJECTIVE: Based on agenda setting theory, this study aimed to identify the content and temporal patterns of websites shared in vaccine-related tweets posted in COVID-19 conversations on Twitter between February and June 2020 .

METHODS: We used triangulation of data analysis methods. The data mining consisted of filtering approximately 5 million tweets posted in COVID-19 conversations to identify vaccination-related tweets, and including links to websites shared in those tweets. We then analyzed the content of the 20 most shared external websites using a mixed methods approach.

RESULTS: Of 841,896 immunization-related tweets identified, 128,408 (22.1%) contained links to specific websites. A wide range of websites were shared, with the 20 most tweeted websites constituting 10.9% of websites shared and generally shared for only 2-3 days. Traditional media made up the majority of those 20 websites, along with other social media and government sources. We have identified markers of inauthentic propagation of some of these links.

CONCLUSIONS: The subject of vaccination was prominent in tweets about COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Website sharing has been a common communication strategy, and its burst pattern and inauthentic spreading strategies pose challenges to health promotion efforts. Future studies should consider multiplatform use in disseminating health information and combating disinformation.

PMID:34665760 | DO I:10.2196 / 29127


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