Moral Panic through the Lens of Twitter: An Analysis of Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Ahmed, Wasim, Bath, Peter, Sbaffi, Laura and Demaerini, Gianluca (2018) Moral Panic through the Lens of Twitter: An Analysis of Infectious Disease Outbreaks. In: SMSociety '18 Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Social Media and Society. Association for Computing Machinery, pp. 217-221. ISBN 978-1-4503-6334-1

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This paper presents an in-depth qualitative analysis of n=13,373 tweets that relate to the peak of the Swine Flu outbreak of 2009, and the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Tweets were analysed using thematic analysis and a number of themes and sub-themes were identified. The results were brought together in an abstraction phase and the commonalities between the cases were studied. An interesting similarity which emerged was the rate at which Twitter users expressed intense fear and panic akin to that of the sociological concept of “moral panic”. Moreover, a number of discussions were found to emerge which were not reported in previous literature. Our study is the largest in-depth analysis of tweets on infectious diseases. Our results will inform public health strategies for future infectious disease outbreaks. Future work will seek to conduct further comparisons and explore relevant health theory.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2018 08:49
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 21:50

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