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Nathan Elrod, Pranav Mahajan, Monica Katragadda, Shane Halse, & Jess Kropczynski. (2021). An Exploration of Methods Using Social Media to Examine Local Attitudes Towards Mask-Wearing During a Pandemic. In Anouck Adrot, Rob Grace, Kathleen Moore, & Christopher W. Zobel (Eds.), ISCRAM 2021 Conference Proceedings – 18th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (pp. 345–358). Blacksburg, VA (USA): Virginia Tech.
Abstract: During the COVID-19 health crisis, local public offcials expend considerable energy encouraging citizens to comply with prevention measures in order to reduce the spread of infection. During the pandemic, mask-wearing has been accepted among health offcials as a simple preventative measure; however, some local areas have been more likely to comply than others. This paper explores methods to better understand local attitudes towards mask-wearing as a tool for public health offcials' situational awareness when preparing public messaging campaigns. This exploration compares three methods to explore local attitudes: sentiment analysis, n-grams, and hashtags. We also explore hashtag co-occurrence networks as a starting point to begin the filtering process. The results show that while sentiment analysis is quick and easy to employ, the results oer little insight into specific local attitudes towards mask-wearing, while examining hashtags and hashtag co-occurrence networks may be used a tool for a more robust understanding of local areas when attempting to gain situational awareness.