Maintenance Notice

Due to necessary scheduled maintenance, the JMIR Publications website will be unavailable from Wednesday, July 01, 2020 at 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM EST. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Who will be affected?

Advertisement

Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Date Submitted: May 25, 2020

Warning: This is an author submission that is not peer-reviewed or edited. Preprints - unless they show as "accepted" - should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

Global Infodemiology of COVID-19: Focus on Google web searches and Instagram hashtags

  • Alessandro Rovetta; 
  • Akshaya Srikanth Bhagavathula; 

ABSTRACT

Background:

Several studies have been conducted using 'infodemiological' methods in COVID-19 research, but studies focusing to examine the extent of infodemic monikers (misinformation) on the internet is very limited.

Objective:

We aimed to investigate the internet search behavior related to COVID-19 and the extent of infodemic monikers circulating in Google and Instagram during the pandemic period in the world.

Methods:

Using Google Trends and Instagram hashtags (#), we explored the internet search activities and behaviors related to COVID-19 pandemic all over the world from February 20, 2020, to May 06, 2020. Briefly, we investigated the names used to identify the virus, health and risk perception, life during the lockdown, and also information related to the adoption of infodemic monikers related to COVID-19. We computed the average peak volume (APC) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) during the study period.

Results:

The top five COVID-19 related terms used in Google searches were "coronavirus", "corona", "COVID", "virus", "corona virus", and "COVID-19". Countries with a higher number of COVID-19 cases have greater Google searches queries related to COVID-19. "coronavirus ozone", "coronavirus laboratory", "coronavirus 5G", "coronavirus conspiracy" and "coronavirus bill gates" are widely circulated infodemic monikers on the internet. Searches related to 'tips and cures' to COVID-19 spiked when the US president suggested an unproven drug as a 'miracle cure' and suggested injecting disinfectant to treat COVID-19. Around two-thirds (66.1%) of the Instagram users use "COVID-19", and "coronavirus" hashtags to disperse the information related to COVID-19.

Conclusions:

Globally, there is a growing interest in COVID-19 and a large number of infodemic monikers are circulating on the internet. Therefore, mass media regulators and health organizers should be vigilant to diminish the infodemic monikers dispersing on the internet and also should take serious actions against those spreading misinformation in social media.


 Citation

Please cite as:

Rovetta A, Bhagavathula AS

Global Infodemiology of COVID-19: Focus on Google web searches and Instagram hashtags

JMIR Preprints. 25/05/2020:20673

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.20673

URL: https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/20673

Download PDF


Request queued. Please wait while the file is being generated. It may take some time.

© The authors. All rights reserved. This is a privileged document currently under peer-review/community review (or an accepted/rejected manuscript). Authors have provided JMIR Publications with an exclusive license to publish this preprint on it's website for review and ahead-of-print citation purposes only. While the final peer-reviewed paper may be licensed under a cc-by license on publication, at this stage authors and publisher expressively prohibit redistribution of this draft paper other than for review purposes.