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Automated measurement of attitudes towards social distancing using social media: a COVID-19 case study

journal contribution
posted on 04.11.2020, 00:33 by A S M Kayes, Saiful Islam, Paul Watters, Alex Ng, Humayun Kayesh
The COVID-19 outbreak has focused attention on the use of social distancing as the primary defence against community infection. Forcing social animals to maintain physical distance has presented significant challenges for health authorities and law enforcement. Anecdotal media reports suggest widespread dissatisfaction with social distancing as a policy, yet there is little prior work aimed at measuring community acceptance of social distancing. In this paper, we propose a new approach to measuring attitudes towards social distancing by using social media and sentiment analysis. Over a four-month period, we found that 82.5 percent of tweets were in favour of social distancing. The results indicate a widespread acceptance of social distancing in a selected community. We examine options for estimating the optimal (minimal) social distance required at scale, and the implications for securing widespread community support and for appropriate crisis management during emergency health events.

History

School

  • School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Publication Date

21/10/2020

Journal

First Monday

Volume

25

Issue

11

Article Number

10599

Pagination

5p.

Publisher

First Monday Editorial Group

ISSN

1396-0466

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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