To read this content please select one of the options below:

#CoronaVirus and public health: the role of social media in sharing health information

Ammina Kothari (Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA)
Kimberly Walker (Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)
Kelli Burns (Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 21 February 2022

Issue publication date: 4 October 2022

874

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how factual information and misinformation are being shared on Twitter by identifying types of social media users who initiate the information diffusion process.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a mixed methodology approach to analyze tweets with COVID-19-related hashtags. First, a social network analysis was conducted to identify social media users who initiate the information diffusion process, followed by a quantitative content analysis of tweets by users with more than 5K retweets to identify what COVID-19 claims, factual information, misinformation and disinformation was shared on Twitter.

Findings

Results found very little misinformation and disinformation distributed widely. While health experts and journalists shared factual COVID-19-related information, they were not receiving optimum engagement. Tweets by citizens focusing on personal experience or opinions received more retweets and likes compared to any other sender type. Similarly, celebrities received more replies than any other sender type.

Practical implications

This study helps medical experts and government agencies understand the type of COVID-19 content and communication being shared on social media for population health purposes.

Originality/value

This study offers insight into how social media users engage with COVID-19-related information on Twitter and offers a typology of categories of information shared about the pandemic.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-03-2021-0143/.

Keywords

Citation

Kothari, A., Walker, K. and Burns, K. (2022), "#CoronaVirus and public health: the role of social media in sharing health information", Online Information Review, Vol. 46 No. 7, pp. 1293-1312. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-03-2021-0143

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles