The Care19 mobile app, which the governors of North Dakota and South Dakota have asked residents to download to assist in contact tracing during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is seen on a phone

In this RISJ Factsheet, we assess the volume and patterns of toxic conversations on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. We specifically analyse worldwide conversations on Twitter targeting the World Health Organization (WHO), a central actor during the pandemic. Our analysis contributes to the current research on the health of online debates amid the increasing role of social media as a critical entrance to information and mediator of public opinion building.
Following previous studies on the field, for this analysis we define toxicity as ‘a rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make people leave a discussion’ (Wulczyn et al. 2017). Consistently, we identify the probability that a tweet conveys a toxic message and then calculate the overall volume of toxicity on Twitter across time. Then, we identify the contextual information and external events that potentially help to understand when and how toxic messages gain momentum on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, we explore potential coordination dynamics behind the spread of those messages, identifying parallel campaigns of toxic messages targeting a narrow set of countries or other global actors.

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