Characterizing information leaders in Twitter during COVID-19 crisis

by   David Pastor-Escuredo, et al.

Information is key during a crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic as it greatly shapes people opinion, behaviour and even their psychological state. It has been acknowledged from the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the infodemic of misinformation is an important secondary crisis produced by the pandemic. Infodemics can amplify the real negative consequences of the pandemic in different dimensions: social, economic and even sanitary. For instance, infodemics can lead to hatred between population groups that fragment the society influencing its response or result in negative habits that help the pandemic propagate. On the contrary, reliable and trustful information along with messages of hope and solidarity can be used to control the pandemic, build safety nets and help promote resilience and antifragility. We propose a framework to characterize leaders in Twitter based on the analysis of the social graph derived from the activity in this social network. Centrality metrics are used to identify relevant nodes that are further characterized in terms of users parameters managed by Twitter. We then assess the resulting topology of clusters of leaders. Although this tool may be used for surveillance of individuals, we propose it as the basis for a constructive application to empower users with a positive influence in the collective behaviour of the network and the propagation of information.


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