As part of its recommendations to increase transparency, the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder recommended – in its final report – that “Congress should implement protections for researchers and journalists who violate platform terms of service by responsibly conducting research on public data of civic interest.”
Our early-stage research project aims to shed light on public health information "super spreaders,” demonstrating what is possible on all social platforms if the Aspen Commission's transparency recommendations enable third parties to access messages that are "too loud to ignore."
We analyze the overarching structure of Twitter dialogue surrounding the pandemic over the last two years, its protagonists, narratives, and evolution. Our methodology highlights the main information super spreaders by quantifying their impact and describing their audiences. In partnership with a public health agency, we plan to also evaluate the veracity of super spreader narratives, and the implicit claims they perpetuate.
Our primary research questions are:
- In the topic of COVID public health, who are the Twitter actors with greatest influence and engagement?
- What is the veracity of the public health messages, and their implicit claims, spread by the most prominent actors?
- What other properties characterize (a) these actors, (b) their public health messages, (c) their reach, and (d) their audiences?