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Social media analysis reveals return to work concerns

Burnet Institute

03 March, 2022

New analysis of recent social media posts has revealed concerns about the prospect of returning to work, general support for the vaccination and booster program, and lively debate around the dichotomy of community responsibility and personal choice.

The TIGER C19 project – Timely Integration of user-GEnerated Responses to C19 – run collaboratively between Burnet Institute and the University of Melbourne – has combined big data analytics of selected keywords and themes from Reddit and Twitter ever since the onset of COVID-19.

The latest collation and analysis of more than 14,400 Twitter and Reddit posts on 22 February focused on five separate keywords relating to current COVID-19-related issues – booster, protest, travel, freedom, and isolation.

TIGER C19 Co-Lead Investigator, Professor Robert Power AM, said the analysis revealed concerns by business owners in retail and hospitality in CBDs and urban hubs about whether people who have the choice may prefer to continue to work from home rather than return to their office or business premises.

Professor Power said there was popular support for the vaccination and booster program, with the hope that its successful roll-out will lead to a return to “normal” living.

“One issue that recurred was uncertainty as to whether receiving a booster would become a requirement for being fully vaccinated,” Professor Power said.

“There was also a discussion as to the extent to which regular booster shots will be required into the future.”

There was general support for the easing of travel restrictions, though freedom to travel was seen to have pros and cons.

“On the positive side, family and friends could reunite and it may lead to higher vaccination rates due to travel requirements,” Professor Power said.

“On the negative side, moving between hemispheres and flu seasons might result in greater levels of sickness and potential new mutations of the virus.

“Alongside support for relaxed restrictions was an acknowledgement of the need for ongoing measures such as abiding by individual country rules and PCR testing before travelling overseas.”

Professor Power said active debate around protests, prompted by the truck driver blockade in Ottawa, Canada, revealed support for the right to safe, non-violent, and non-politicised actions.

“Concern was expressed around the use of weapons on both sides, and also the ongoing infiltration of political and other groups into COVID-focused protests and demonstrations,” he said.

TIGER C19 is a powerful tool to explore social media trends in real-time, with potential and value to inform policy and public health messaging.

“By repeating these exercises in real-time, and by expanding the search terms, we’ve been able to closely monitor responses and attitudes to COVID-19 in Victoria and Australia,” Professor Power said.

“In this way and freed from the constraints of more traditional social research methods, TIGER C19 offers a novel and innovative means to observe and measure responses to COVID and other relevant public health issues.”

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Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Robert Power AM

Project Consultant, Fleming Fund Program Director

Telephone

+61392822169

Email

robert.power@burnet.edu.au

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