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Health Informatics J. 2016 Sep;22(3):470-8. doi: 10.1177/1460458214568037. Epub 2015 Feb 5.

Communicating Ebola through social media and electronic news media outlets: A cross-sectional study.

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King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Health Informatics, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Social media and electronic news media activity are an important source of information for the general public. Yet, there is a dearth of research exploring the use of Twitter and electronic news outlets during significant worldly events such as the recent Ebola Virus scare. The purpose of this article is to investigate the use of Twitter and electronic news media outlets in communicating Ebola Virus information. A cross-sectional survey of Twitter data and Google News Trend data from 30 September till 29 October, 2014 was conducted. Between 30 September and 29 October, there were approximately 26 million tweets (25,925,152) that contained the word Ebola. The highest number of correlated activity for Twitter and electronic news outlets occurred on 16 October 2014. Other important peaks in Twitter data occurred on 1 October, 6 October, 8 October, and 12 October, 2014. The main influencers of the Twitter feeds were news media outlets. The study reveals a relationship between electronic news media publishing and Twitter activity around significant events such as Ebola. Healthcare organizations should take advantage of the relationship between electronic news media and trending events on social media sites such as Twitter and should work on developing social media campaigns in co-operation with leading electronic news media outlets (e.g. CNN, Yahoo, Reuters) that can have an influence on social media activity.


Ebola; Twitter; electronic news media; social media; virus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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