Official sources of information about vaccinations reduced the number of retweets

Scientists from the United States and Indonesia set up an experiment with the popular Indonesian Twitter users to include with their help, the message about the importance of vaccination, its availability and other related practical considerations. They, in particular, found that microblogger really help to convey information to their fans, but if they clearly indicate the source of information, these messages are worse. Work published on the portal of the us National Bureau of economic research (NBER).

Social networks often become a way of disseminating information about any social problem: the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter or #IceBucketChallenge has attracted the attention of not only ordinary users, but also celebrities. It is not always this information is scientifically correct, so social networks are sometimes forced to deal with the distribution of such material: for example, YouTube recently said about the decision to demolitionary video, agitating for vaccine refusal.

Alatas Vivi (Vivi Alatas) from the world Bank and her colleagues were interested in knowing how effective a Twitter campaign with the participation of famous users on certain topics and what determines their effectiveness. In particular, they decided to check whether the fact of approving statements from the celebrity affect the perception of the message as well as post reach and depth of its penetration is affected by direct sources of information.

To find out, scientists with the special envoy of Indonesia to the United Nations on the Millennium development Goals conducted an experiment: in 2015-2016, they drew 46 celebrities and popular Twitter organizations, which in total was 7.8 million subscribers, receiving from them permission to randomly publish in their accounts a few of 549 tweets about vaccinations approved by the Ministry of health of the country, with the hashtag #ayoImunisasi (“Let’s put grafting”). They tracked the impact of retweets and sources of information in a tweet. In addition, researchers are attracted to the experiment 1032 University students that do not have large number of Twitter followers. Ordinary people and celebrities found themselves in from the scientists that made it possible to publish content to Twitter on their behalf.

The study authors tracked the fate of 672 tweets posted in the experiment — the number of likes and retweets, which they gathered from readers with Twitter celebs, and in turn, their subscribers, and also collected a random sample of 2411 users, which were signed by at least one participant of the experiment, and conducted a telephone survey of these people.

It turned out, in particular, that for tweets written by Twitter celebrities, the probability of likes or retweet was three times higher than retweets of other people’s records, so scientists have determined that “the effect of approval” from a well-known user actually exists. The indication of the source of information in the form of links to the Twitter account of the Indonesian Ministry of health, or direct hyperlinks reduced the likelihood of retweets or likes on 26.3 percent regardless of who was the author of the original tweet, a celebrity or a normal user. The number of tweets that saw the subscriber celebrities in one day, expected to increase the likelihood of retweets and likes these tweets, but non — linear after the third tweet additional effect was reduced.

A telephone survey of Twitter users revealed that they not only heard about the campaign (they were asked about the hashtag #ayoImunisasi), but also with a greater likelihood of correctly answered questions on common in Indonesian society myths about vaccines (e.g. about the fact that vaccines are made abroad, and when they are created using pigs that would make them not corresponding to the norms of Halal vaccines in Indonesia are produced domestically) and about the availability of vaccines. Moreover, the campaign has raised awareness about the vaccination status of the neighbors and acquaintances of the Respondent that, in the opinion of the authors of the study, means that people could discuss the campaign among themselves offline, that is not on Twitter.

The researchers note that for a more effective campaign is needed to involve influential speakers who need to disseminate information on its own behalf and without specifying the sources according to their estimates, for significant effect of such a campaign will be enough to see 15 messages in four months.

The world health organization at the beginning of the year has published the list of global threats to humanity in the year 2019, in which, in particular, first came the rejection of vaccination. The who notesthat the expansion of vaccination coverage will help to avoid 1.5 million premature deaths per year.

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