The SARS-Cov-2 virus is a new generation virus initially identified in the market in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China. Immediately after the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a COVID-19 health emergency, a real tsunami of information broke out, the main features of which can be summarised as: 1) high volume of information; 2) variety of sources of information (official and non-official); 3) multitude of information formats (infographics, videos, textual data, audio files); and 4) high viral potential. In this regard, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on 15 February 2020 said, ‘We are not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic’ (Zarocostas, 2020). On 21 February, two outbreaks of infections were reported in Italy, one in Lombardy and another in Veneto, with an initial number of 17 cases. The time span between 22 February 2020 and 8 June 2020 can be considered as one of the most crucial in Italian history. The critical issues not only concerned the spread of coronavirus and the management of the health emergency but above all the side effects of the pandemic: limitation of personal and religious freedoms, economic recession, crisis in international relations between EU countries and Infodemic (Lazzerini and Putoto, 2020). This contribution aims at analysing the information in the Twittersphere during the COVID-19 health emergency in Italy. In particular, the research aims at analysing the main conversational themes using probabilistic topic models. Focusing on misinformation topics, and understanding in deep the characteristics of the conspiracy and junk information networks, the research aims at investigating the characteristics of conspiracy networks and contents and the virality of these tweets (comparing with the institutional information). We collected the most popular hashtags on the COVID-19 theme (#coronavirus, #covid-19, #coronavirusitalia, #covid19italia). After the start of the lockdown across the country (dpcm of 8 March 2020), #iorestoacasa was added. In the third and final phase corresponding to the beginning of phase 2 (dpcm 26 April 2020) a further hashtag #Fase2 (#phase2) was added. We collected 7,306,469 Tweets and Retweets. The Tweets dataset was collected using Socialgrabber, an online service platform, that provides a user-friendly GUI to use the publicly available Twitter Streaming API (Access Programming Interface). First results seem to confirm what emerges from other research on different national contexts that have dealt with infodemics in the twittersphere. Some of them point out that, although the twittersphere is populated by disinformation and myths about COVID-19, they are not predominant compared to those with official information content from accredited press agencies and institutions (Singh et al., 2020).

The Italian twittersphere in COVID-19 Time: a topic analysis

MARETTI Mara;RUSSO Vanessa;FONTANELLA Lara;DEL GOBBO Emiliano
2020-01-01

Abstract

The SARS-Cov-2 virus is a new generation virus initially identified in the market in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in China. Immediately after the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a COVID-19 health emergency, a real tsunami of information broke out, the main features of which can be summarised as: 1) high volume of information; 2) variety of sources of information (official and non-official); 3) multitude of information formats (infographics, videos, textual data, audio files); and 4) high viral potential. In this regard, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference on 15 February 2020 said, ‘We are not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic’ (Zarocostas, 2020). On 21 February, two outbreaks of infections were reported in Italy, one in Lombardy and another in Veneto, with an initial number of 17 cases. The time span between 22 February 2020 and 8 June 2020 can be considered as one of the most crucial in Italian history. The critical issues not only concerned the spread of coronavirus and the management of the health emergency but above all the side effects of the pandemic: limitation of personal and religious freedoms, economic recession, crisis in international relations between EU countries and Infodemic (Lazzerini and Putoto, 2020). This contribution aims at analysing the information in the Twittersphere during the COVID-19 health emergency in Italy. In particular, the research aims at analysing the main conversational themes using probabilistic topic models. Focusing on misinformation topics, and understanding in deep the characteristics of the conspiracy and junk information networks, the research aims at investigating the characteristics of conspiracy networks and contents and the virality of these tweets (comparing with the institutional information). We collected the most popular hashtags on the COVID-19 theme (#coronavirus, #covid-19, #coronavirusitalia, #covid19italia). After the start of the lockdown across the country (dpcm of 8 March 2020), #iorestoacasa was added. In the third and final phase corresponding to the beginning of phase 2 (dpcm 26 April 2020) a further hashtag #Fase2 (#phase2) was added. We collected 7,306,469 Tweets and Retweets. The Tweets dataset was collected using Socialgrabber, an online service platform, that provides a user-friendly GUI to use the publicly available Twitter Streaming API (Access Programming Interface). First results seem to confirm what emerges from other research on different national contexts that have dealt with infodemics in the twittersphere. Some of them point out that, although the twittersphere is populated by disinformation and myths about COVID-19, they are not predominant compared to those with official information content from accredited press agencies and institutions (Singh et al., 2020).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/795977
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