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Characterizing Twitter users behaviour during the Spanish Covid-19 first wave

Publication type
People use Online Social Media to make sense of crisis events. A pandemic crisis like the Covid-19 outbreak is a complex event, involving numerous aspects of the social life on multiple temporal scales. Focusing on the Spanish Twittersphere, we characterized users activity behaviour across the different phases of the Covid-19 first wave. Firstly, we analyzed a sample of timelines of different classes of users from the Spanish Twittersphere in terms of their propensity to produce new information or to amplify information produced by others. Secondly, by performing stepwise segmented regression analysis and Bayesian switchpoint analysis, we looked for a possible behavioral footprint of the crisis in the statistics of users' activity. We observed that generic Spanish Twitter users and journalists experienced an abrupt increment of their tweeting activity between March 9 and March 14, in coincidence with control measures being announced by regional and State level authorities. However, they displayed a stable proportion of retweets before and after the switching point. On the contrary, politicians represented an exception, being the only class of users not experimenting this abrupt change and following a completely endogenous dynamics determined by institutional agenda. On the one hand, they did not increment their overall activity, displaying instead a slight decrease. On the other hand, in times of crisis, politicians tended to strengthen their propensity to amplify information rather than produce it.
arXiv:2012.06550 [cs]