Echo chambers and vaccines against COVID-19 mis/disinformation on Twitter: machine learning and network analysis-based approach




Vaccine; Infodemics; Fake News; Echo Chambers; Twitter; Machine learning.


Given the infodemiological importance of echo chambers in the dissemination of mis/disinformation, we aimed to analyze the interaction networks of users most exposed to mis/disinformation or controversy about vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, a methodology based on machine learning and Social Network Analysis is proposed in this research for automated detection of controversial and mis/disinformative content about vaccines, through which a model with 92% accuracy was achieved. Out of the nearly 24 million tweets collected, 12.4 million (52%) were flagged as controversial and/or potential for mis/disinformation, and the months of January and June 2021 were those with the highest activity, being analyzed through a cohort. Unlike previous work, we analyzed the network of all ways of interacting on Twitter, and the entire textual structure of the tweets - not just links or hashtags -.  Regarding the conversation about COVID-19 vaccines, the findings were different from those associated with party-political discussion previously described in the literature, since the network of mentions and replies privileges heterophilic relationships, and "echo" conformations were not observable. Finally, further studies are needed to better understand the dissemination of misinformation about vaccines on Twitter.

Author Biographies

Arthur da Silva Lopes, Universidade Federal da Bahia

MSc student in Collective Health (ISC-UFBA), Interdisciplinary Bachelor's degree in Health (UFBA) and Data Scientist in Natural Language Processing. 

Antonio Brotas, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz

PhD in Culture and Society (UFBA). Professor of the Master's in Science, Technology and Health Communication at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (COC/Fiocruz), researcher at the National Institute for Public Communication of Science and Technology (INCT-CPCT), journalist and communication advisor at Fiocruz Bahia.


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How to Cite

LOPES, A. da S. .; BROTAS, A. Echo chambers and vaccines against COVID-19 mis/disinformation on Twitter: machine learning and network analysis-based approach . Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 12, n. 2, p. e22812240159, 2023. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v12i2.40159. Disponível em: Acesso em: 4 oct. 2023.



Health Sciences