Twitter Data Reveals Demographic Insights into COVID-19 Guideline Compliance
A recent study published in Scientific Reports utilized Twitter data on social mobility to identify the population that adhered more or less to public health guidelines formulated during the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These guidelines were implemented to contain the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Social distancing and isolation were the two most effective methods to prevent the transmission of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. These interventions were crucial, especially in the early phase of the pandemic when other interventions were not available.
At the beginning of the pandemic, US health authorities urged the general public to avoid organizing and attending large gatherings and adhere to social distancing. Several studies have shown mixed compliance with these recommendations, which impacted their effectiveness. Factors affecting compliance with social distancing recommendations include living environment, financial burden, and distrust of officials.
It is important to understand the factors determining compliance with social distancing rules in different population groups. This can be achieved by evaluating online mobility data to facilitate the understanding of travel patterns. Mobility data can be easily accessed from GPS-enabled mobile phones and used to assess mobility patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter could be an alternative source of mobility data.
About the Study
During the study period, public tweets were collected in real-time using Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API). However, Twitter transformed this service into a paid one in 2023. It is noteworthy that geotagging in tweets is allowed on a Twitter platform, providing location information in the tweet metadata. Previous studies used automatic geolocation of Twitter to understand different patterns. The current study utilized public Twitter posts containing location data.