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Twitter use by the dementia community during COVID-19: a user classification and social network analysis

Fatimah Alhayan (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK) (Department of Information Systems, College of Computer and Information Sciences, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Diane Pennington (Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Sarra Ayouni (Department of Information Systems, College of Computer and Information Sciences, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 19 April 2022

Issue publication date: 18 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

The study aimed to examine how different communities concerned with dementia engage and interact on Twitter.

Design/methodology/approach

A dataset was sampled from 8,400 user profile descriptions, which was labelled into five categories and subjected to multiple machine learning (ML) classification experiments based on text features to classify user categories. Social network analysis (SNA) was used to identify influential communities via graph-based metrics on user categories. The relationship between bot score and network metrics in these groups was also explored.

Findings

Classification accuracy values were achieved at 82% using support vector machine (SVM). The SNA revealed influential behaviour on both the category and node levels. About 2.19% suspected social bots contributed to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dementia discussions in different communities.

Originality/value

The study is a unique attempt to apply SNA to examine the most influential groups of Twitter users in the dementia community. The findings also highlight the capability of ML methods for efficient multi-category classification in a crisis, considering the fast-paced generation of data.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-04-2021-0208.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Prof. Ian Ruthven for his valuable comments on the earlier version of this manuscript which helped the improvement thereof.

Citation

Alhayan, F., Pennington, D. and Ayouni, S. (2023), "Twitter use by the dementia community during COVID-19: a user classification and social network analysis", Online Information Review, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 41-58. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-04-2021-0208

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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