Social media discourse in the United Kingdom concerning the Coronavirus pandemic

Social media discourse in the United Kingdom concerning the Coronavirus pandemic

This use case focuses on the media discourse surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic in United Kingdom. The visualizations used in this use case were produced by SAIL LABS’ Media Mining System.

  • Allows continuous assessment of media coverage and public opinion in real time.
  • Suitable for monitoring punctual and permanent health promotion campaigns.
  • Sentiment analysis of traditional and social media regarding the perceived impact of a disease and government action.
  • Event-based surveillance.
  • Rapid data collection for fast decisions.
  • Timely reporting mechanisms.
  • Social media intelligence.
  • Enables to extract data from text or audiovisual sources in languages that the users do not speak thanks to the automatic speech recognition and machine translation covering 32 languages.
  • Enables situational awareness and situational understanding.

According to the John Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center, the United Kingdom has currently more than 48,000 cases of infections of COVID-19 and almost 5,000 people died (Source:  John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center). The strict measures on the freedom of movement were announced on the 24th of March (Source: BBC).

This short use case will provide an overview of the social media discourse concerning the impact and perception of Coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The Heat Map on the right shows the density of social media posts about COVID-19 created in the area of London in the week from the 27th of March to the 3rd of April with the available geo-location. The widget Search Results below summarizes the most impactful tweets posted in the area.

Each tweet collected in the system includes information about the tweet itself, user, geographic details and a sentiment analysis of the replies. The tweet created by one of the users was posted from the area around London, mentioned UK and could have been potentially seen by more than 386 thousand social media users.

When investigating the most impactful social media posts about the UK and Coronavirus in the week from the 27th of March to the 3rd of April, the system not only applies the sentiment analysis to the text of the post, but also summarizes the reactions of social media users in the form of a pie graph. Four of the most impactful tweets informing about the virus and the UK were posted by BBC, CNN, The New York Times and Reuters (Figure 4). Figure 5 below summarizes the reactions to the tweet by BBC informing about the UK government’s plan to evacuate British citizens abroad back to UK. The reactions to this post are very diverse: 40 % possess neutral sentiment, 30 % display negative sentiment, 20 % positive and 10 % mixed sentiment.

The question arises as to who are the most influential Twitter profiles posting about COVID-19 and the UK? Figure 6 provides an overview of Twitter profiles with the highest influence informing their followers about the topic. Piers Morgan, an English broadcaster, journalist, writer and a TV personality, was identified as the biggest influencer tweeting about the pandemic and the UK.

On the 27th of March, the prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, announced that he had been infected with COVID-19 (Source: BBC). Together with the country’s adopted measures concerning the freedom of movement, it is reasonable to compare the positive and negative sentiment on social media in posts about COVID-19 and the UK. Generally, governmental Conservative party was mentioned more than the opposition Labour party with both positive and negative sentiment. Negative sentiment prevails in all the social media mentions of Boris Johnson, Conservative party and Labour party. The most positive and most negative mentions of Conservative and Labour party were posted on the 4th of April (Figure 7).

Therefore, it is reasonable to investigate what happened on the 4th of April. The answer to this question is revealed in the Figure 8 on the right side.

The most negative and positive mentions of Boris Johnson on social media occurred the day after, on the 5th of April. What happened on this day is explained in Figure 9.

The Trend Graph from Figure 7 was used as an overview tool to reveal stories on social media that impacted and shaped the public opinion on the Corona pandemic and the UK.

Endnote: All visualizations were produced with the Demo version of the SAIL LABS’ Media Mining System. Please, bear in mind that the Demo version uses a sample of traditional and social media, therefore the conclusions being drawn could not be understood as made of a complete social media discourse surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

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This use case is a sample obtained from a 54 pages long report on the corona crisis in 20 countries around the globe. To request the complete report, please contact us in the form below.