Why were Twitter users obsessed with Vitamin D during the first year of the pandemic?

Alexandra Mavroeidi, Ryan Innes, Esperanza Miyake, Diane Rasmussen Pennington

Research output: Working paperWorking Paper/Preprint

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore how the relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 has been represented on the social media site Twitter. NCapture was used to collect textual Tweets on a weekly basis for three months during the pandemic. In total, 21,140 Tweets containing the keywords "vitamin D" and "COVID" were collected and imported to NVivo12. An inductive thematic analysis was carried out on the Tweets collected on the first (12/2/2021) and last week (21/5/2021) of the recording period to identify themes and subthemes. Quality control of the coding was conducted on a sample of the dataset (20%). Data were also compared to the "ground truth" to explore the accuracy of media outputs. The four main themes identified were "association of vitamin D with COVID-19", "politically informed views", "vitamin D deficiency" and "vitamin D sources". When compared to the ground truth, the majority of information relating to the key findings was 'incorrect' for all of the findings. This study contributes to the area of research by highlighting the extent of the issue social media sites face with health-related misinformation. In the context of COVID-19, it is important that sites such as Twitter improve their existing misinformation policies, as misinformation can be detrimental in disease prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCold Spring Harbor, NY
Number of pages28
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 18 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • vitamin D
  • Twitter users
  • pandemic

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