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Analysis of External Content in the Vaccination Discussion on Twitter

Richard Kuzma, Iain J. Cruickshank, Kathleen M. Carley
Published: 20 July 2021
Abstract: The spread of coronavirus and anti-vaccine conspiracies online hindered public health responses to the pandemic. We examined the content of external articles shared on Twitter from February to June 2020 to understand how conspiracy theories and fake news competed with legitimate sources of information. Examining external content--articles, rather than social media posts--is a novel methodology that allows for non-social media specific analysis of misinformation, tracking of changing narratives over time, and determining which types of resources (government, news, scientific, or dubious) dominate the pandemic vaccine conversation. We find that distinct narratives emerge, those narratives change over time, and lack of government and scientific messaging on coronavirus created an information vacuum filled by both traditional news and conspiracy theories.

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