Netizens stayed ‘positive’, ‘hopeful’ on Twitter during pandemic, says study

Despite the prolonged lockdown and deadly pandemic, users of the social media platform Twitter “showed positive behaviour and sounded hopeful because of the work of frontline workers”, says a study published by Dutch analytics company Elsevier, and scienceresearch.com.

The researchers studied tweets with the hashtags ‘COVID-19’ (92,646 tweets) and ‘Coronavirus’ (85,513 tweets).

The research was conducted by Muzafar Bhat, Monisa Qadri, Noor-ul-Asrar Beg, Majid Kundroo, Naffi Ahangerd, Basant Agarwal of the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora; and the University of Jammu, and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kota.

“One of the major factors regarding the prominence of positive sentiments over the social media during this pandemic is that most of the people, despite being stressed and under lockdown, appreciated the efforts of their respective governments and frontline warriors like health workers, police personnel, etc.,” the researchers found.

‘Sentiment analysis’

“Applying the sentiment analysis to these tweets, it was observed that most of the tweets, that is, 48,157 (51.97%) expressed positive sentiments, while 31,553 (34.05%) were neutral and rest of the tweets — amounting to 12,936 (13.96%) — accounted for negative sentiments in case of #COVID-19,” the study said.

The ‘sentiment analysis’ of #Coronavirus indicated that the sentiments recorded were mostly neutral as seen in 35,296 (41.27%) tweets, followed by positive sentiments expressed in 34,989 (40.91%) of the tweets, and 15,228 (17.8%) comprised of negative sentiments, the researchers observed.

“It is interesting to note that users expressed least negative sentiments for both the hash-tags. It indicates that there has been less concern and involvement on part of people about the disease,” the study concluded.

Positive outcomes

The users appear hopeful of positive outcomes from timely governmental efforts such as the complete lockdown, social distancing, washing hands frequently and using alcohol-based sanitisers, the study said.

“Implementation of various strategies vis-à-vis work-from-home and learning new skills are part of this experience. In future, it would also be useful to see the trends on sentiments with temporal and geographical information for various strategies such as lockdown, social distancing, etc., undertaken to combat the coronavirus disease,” it added.

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