Information Circulation in times of Ebola: Twitter and the Sexual Transmission of Ebola by Survivors

Conclusion This article increases our knowledge of the relationship between Twitter and traditional media in times of epidemics. In contrast to previous studies that underlined how users rely on Twitter for sharing information from mainstream media (such as 1,2,3), our study shows that tweets combine information dissemination with emotional stances and critical views, leading to a new or greatly increased debate about a subject that was treated as insignificant by other media. In that sense, Twitter acts mostly as a filter of information as well as a space where it is reconstructed. In the “Twittersphere,” the issue of sexual transmission of Ebola by survivors was mostly voiced by citizens and not by mainstream media. They did so by emphasizing the potential danger of the transmission and by defining Ebola as a STD. While many Twitter users tweet and retweet in a neutral way, merely sharing URL links from media or official sources, there is a strong active minority that otherwise uses its public speaking power. By expressing their fears and doubts, and using the argumentative resources of irony or comparison (over time, or with events considered similar), Internet users raise questions and express objections that the health authorities did not consider necessary to discuss. Without a doubt, the health authorities would be well advised to put in place very quickly, on the occasion of every health crisis, a special watch on the comments circulating on social media ...
Source: PLOS Currents Outbreaks - Category: Epidemiology Authors: Source Type: research

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