Citizen participation in Twitter: Anti-vaccine controversies in times of COVID-19

Carrasco-Polaino, Rafael and Martín-Cárdaba, Miguel-Ángel and Villar-Cirujano, Ernesto Citizen participation in Twitter: Anti-vaccine controversies in times of COVID-19. Comunicar, 2021, vol. 29, n. 69, pp. 21-31. [Journal article (Paginated)]

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English abstract

Twitter has transformed into one of the main platforms for citizen engagement today. However, even though previous studies have focused on opinions about vaccines in general or about specific vaccines, opinions towards COVID-19 vaccines on Twitter have not been researched to date. The objective of this research is, by using social network analysis and language processing tools, to examine the degree to which the opinions and interactions present on Twitter are favorable or unfavorable towards the main COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the relevance of each of the vaccines is studied, as well as their level of controversy. Likewise, the present study investigates, for the first time, the conversation from different perspectives including the content and also the participants, by analyzing in detail the verified accounts and using tools for the detection of bots. In global terms, the results from verified accounts show a moderate favorability towards the COVID-19 vaccines, the most accepted being those of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Sputnik V. On the other hand, the vaccine that attracts the most attention is the Russian Sputnik V, which is also the most controversial, behind those developed in China. Finally, verified users are shown to be relevant agents in the conversation due to their greater capacity for dissemination and reach, while the presence of bots is practically non-existent.

Spanish abstract

Twitter se ha transformado en una de las principales plataformas de participación ciudadana hoy en día. Sin embargo, aun cuando estudios similares previos se han centrado en la opinión sobre las vacunas en general o sobre otras vacunas específicas, hasta la fecha no se han investigado las opiniones hacia las vacunas contra la COVID-19 en Twitter. El objetivo de esta investigación es, mediante el uso de herramientas de análisis de redes sociales y de herramientas de procesamiento del lenguaje, examinar el grado en el que las opiniones e interacciones presentes en Twitter son favorables o no hacia las principales vacunas de la COVID-19. Además, se estudia la relevancia de cada una de las principales vacunas, así como su nivel de controversia (polemicidad). Igualmente, el presente estudio investiga por primera vez la conversación no solo desde el punto de vista del contenido, sino también de los participantes que la integran, analizando en detalle las cuentas verificadas y empleando herramientas para la detección de bots. En términos globales, los resultados muestran una moderada favorabilidad hacia las vacunas de la COVID-19, siendo las más aceptadas las de Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer y Moderna, y la de Sputnik V en el caso concreto de las cuentas verificadas. Por otro lado, la vacuna que más atención acapara es la rusa Sputnik V, que es además la más polémica por detrás de las de origen chino. Por último, los usuarios verificados se muestran como agentes relevantes de la conversación por su mayor capacidad de difusión y alcance, mientras que la presencia de bots es prácticamente inexistente.

Item type: Journal article (Paginated)
Keywords: Network analysis; quantitative analysis; misinformation; virtual communities; social media; critical thinking; Análisis de redes; análisis cuantitativo; desinformación; comunidades virtuales; redes sociales; pensamiento crítico
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BJ. Communication
G. Industry, profession and education.
G. Industry, profession and education. > GH. Education.
Depositing user: Alex Ruiz
Date deposited: 21 Dec 2021 12:02
Last modified: 21 Dec 2021 12:02


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