Volume 57, Issue 1 e378
POSTERS

Social media and COVID-19: Can social distancing be quantified without measuring human movements?

Mackenzie Anderson

Mackenzie Anderson

School of Information Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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Amir Karami

Corresponding Author

Amir Karami

School of Information Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Correspondence

Amir Karami, School of Information Science, University of South Carolina, 1501 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29208.

Email: [email protected]

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Parisa Bozorgi

Parisa Bozorgi

Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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First published: 22 October 2020
Citations: 3

Funding information: University of South Carolina

Abstract

The COVID-19 outbreak has posed significant threats to international health and the economy. In the absence of treatment for this virus, public health officials asked the public to practice social distancing to reduce the number of physical contacts. However, quantifying social distancing is a challenging task and current methods are based on human movements. We propose a time and cost-effective approach to measure how people practice social distancing. This study proposes a new method based on utilizing the frequency of hashtags supporting and encouraging social distancing for measuring social distancing. We have identified 18 related hashtags and tracked their trends between Jan and May 2020. Our evaluation results show that there is a strong correlation (p < .05) between our findings and the Google social distancing report.