Social Media as an Early Proxy for Social Distancing Indicated by the COVID-19 Reproduction Number: Observational Study   [open pdf - 534KB]

From the Abstract: "The magnitude and time course of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] epidemic in the United States depends on early interventions to reduce the basic reproductive number to below 1. It is imperative, then, to develop methods to actively assess where quarantine measures such as social distancing may be deficient and suppress those potential resurgence nodes as early as possible. [...] We ask if social media is an early indicator of public social distancing measures in the United States by investigating its correlation with the time-varying reproduction number (Rt) as compared to social mobility estimates reported from Google and Apple Maps. [...] Our study demonstrates the potential use of Google Trends, Instagram, and Twitter as epidemiological tools in the assessment of social distancing measures in the United States during the early course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their correlation and earlier rise and peak in correlative strength with Rt when compared to social mobility may provide proactive insight into whether social distancing efforts are sufficiently enacted. Whether this proves valuable in the creation of more accurate assessments of the early epidemic course is uncertain due to limitations. These limitations include the use of a biased sample that is internet literate with internet access, which may covary with socioeconomic status, education, geography, and age, and the use of subtotal social media mentions of social distancing." The original publication of this article can be found here: [http://publichealth.jmir.org/2020/4/e21340/].

Joseph Younis, Harvy Freitag, Jeremy S Ruthberg, Jonathan P Romanes, Craig Nielsen, Neil Mehta. Posted here with permission. Document is under a Creative Commons license and requires proper attribution and noncommercial use to be shared: [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/].
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JMIR Publications: https://publichealth.jmir.org/
Media Type:
JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (2020), v.6 issue 4
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