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How privacy concerns and cultural differences affect public opinion during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study

Yunfei Xing (School of Information Management, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China)
Yuhai Li (School of Information Management, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China)
Feng-Kwei Wang (Executive Master Program of Business Administration, College of Management, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 2 June 2021

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021

4454

Abstract

Purpose

COVID-19, an infectious disease first identified in China, has resulted in an ongoing pandemic all over the world. Most of the countries have been experiencing a difficult period during the fighting of this pandemic. The purpose of this study is to explore the effect of privacy concerns and cultural differences on public opinion related to the pandemic. The authors conducted a comparative analysis of public opinion in the US and in China as a case study, in order to determine the results.

Design/methodology/approach

National policies on important issues faced during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US and in China were examined through a comparative analysis. The authors used text clustering and visualization to mine public opinion on two popular social media platforms, Twitter and Weibo. From the perspectives of concern for privacy and of national culture, this study combines qualitative and quantitative analysis to discover the acceptance level of national policies by the public in the two countries.

Findings

The anti-pandemic policies and measures of the US and China reflect the different characteristics of their respective political systems and national cultures. When considering the culture of the US, it is hard to establish and enforce a rigorous regulation on either mask wearing in public or home quarantine on the national level. The opinions of US people are diverse, regarding national COVID-19 policies, but they are rather unified on privacy issues. On the other hand, Chinese people show a high acceptance of national policies based on their mask-wearing customs and their culture of collectivism.

Originality/value

Prior studies have paid insufficient attention to the ways in which user privacy and cultural difference affect public opinion on national policies between the US and China. This case study that compares public opinion on current and topical issues which are closely bound up with public life shows originality, as it innovatively provides a cross-cultural perspective on the research of public opinion dissemination during emergencies by considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is funded by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2020M672393).

Citation

Xing, Y., Li, Y. and Wang, F.-K. (2021), "How privacy concerns and cultural differences affect public opinion during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 73 No. 4, pp. 517-542. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-07-2020-0216

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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