Understanding the landscape and propagation of COVID-19 misinformation and its correction on Sina Weibo,
Refereed Article, 2021
Yang, Q., Luo, Z., Li, M., & Liu, J. (2021). Understanding the landscape and propagation of COVID-19 misinformation and its correction on Sina Weibo. Global Health Promotion.
The prevalence of health misinformation on social media could significantly influence individuals' health behaviors. To examine the prevalent topics, propagation, and correction of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) misinformation, automated content analyses were conducted for posts on Sina Weibo, which is China's largest microblogging site. In total, 177,816 posts related to COVID-19 misinformation during the COVID-19 outbreak in China were analyzed. The structural topic modeling identified 23 valid topics regarding COVID-19 misinformation and its correction, which were further categorized into three general themes. Sentiment analysis was conducted to generate positive and negative sentiment scores for each post. The zero-inflated Poisson model indicated that only the negative sentiment was a significant predictor of the number of comments (β = 0.003, p < 0.001) but not reposts. Furthermore, users are more prone to repost and comment on information regarding prevention/treatment (e.g., traditional Chinese medicine preventing COVID) as well as potential threats of COVID-19 (e.g., COVID-19 was defined as an epidemic by World Health Organization). Health education and promotion implications are discussed.