Social media and public perception as core aspect of public health: The cautionary case of @realdonaldtrump and COVID-19

Agustín Fuentes, Jeffrey V. Peterson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    The social media milieu in which we are enmeshed has substantive impacts on our beliefs and perceptions. Recent work has established that this can play a role in influencing understanding of, and reactions to, public health information. Twitter, in particular, appears to play a substantive role in the public health information ecosystem. From July 25th, 2020 to November 15th, 2020, we collected weekly tweets related to COVID19 keywords and assessed their networks, patterns and properties. Our analyses revealed the dominance of a handful of individual accounts as central structuring agents in the networks of tens of thousands of tweets and retweets, and thus millions of views, related to specific COVID19 keywords. These few individual accounts and the content of their tweets, mentions, and retweets are substantially overrepresented in terms of public exposure to, and thus interaction with, critical elements of public health information in the pandemic. Here we report on one particularly striking aspect of our dataset: the prominent position of @realdonaldtrump in Twitter networks related to four key terms of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere0251179
    JournalPloS one
    Volume16
    Issue number5 May
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2021

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General

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