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Politicization of discussions of Covid-19 on Twitter

I.G. Ovchinnikova, L.M. Ermakova, D.M. Nurbakova
80,00 Р

UDC 81`27

https://doi.org/10.20339/PhS.6-21.003

 

Ovchinnikova Irina G.,

Doctor of Philology, Professor,

Institute of Linguistic and Intercultural Communication

Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University

e-mail: ovchinnikova.ig@1msmu.ru

Ermakova Liana M.,

Candidate of Physics and Mathematics Sciences, Associate Professor

of the Laboratory of Digital Humanities

University of Western Brittany (Brest, France)

e-mail: liana.ermakova@univ-brest.fr

Nurbakova Diana M.,

Candidate of Physics and Mathematics Sciences,

Associate Professor of the Computer Science Department

National Institute of Applied Sciences (Lyon, France)

e-mail: diana.nurbakova@insa-lyon.fr

 

Power of social media including Twitter for English speaking community to shape public opinion becomes critical during the current pandemic because of misinformation. The existing studies on spreading misinformation on social media hypothesise that the initial message is fake. In contrast, we focus on information distortion occurring in cascades as the initial message about the Covid-19 treatment is quoted or receives a reply. Public persons discuss medical information on Twitter providing fast and simple response to complex medical problems that users find very attractive to follow. Followers generate information cascades while quoting and commenting on the initial message. In the cascades, medical information from the initial tweet is often distorted. The discussion of the Covid-19 treatment in the cascades is politicized according to users’ political sympathies. We show a significant information shift in cascades initiated by public figures during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study provide valuable insights for the semantic analysis of information distortion.

Keywords: social media, Covid-19, information cascade, public figures, semantic shifts, misinformation.

 

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