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Prev Med Rep. 2018 Nov 23;13:62-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.11.013. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Are electric scooters promoted on social media with safety in mind? A case study on Bird's Instagram.

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1
Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

Electric scooter (e-scooter) companies are growing in popularity across the United States looking to take advantage of the rideshare economy by providing an independent alternative to cars and bicycles. While e-scooter transportation could reduce emissions, and automobile congestion in local areas, powered two-wheeler drivers are extremely vulnerable to road risks. News reports of e-scooter crashes and fatalities have started to accumulate. Earlier research has demonstrated that the ways in which companies promote and demonstrate use of their product or service through social media influences consumer behavior. In the U.S. in 2018, this study examined the official Instagram account of Bird, the e-scooter market share leader with over 66,000 followers, to determine how much it emphasized safety in its posts. All posts to Bird's official Instagram account were collected from 22 September 2017 to 9 November 2018 (n = 324) and rules for coding content were developed. Among all posts, 69.14% contained a person visible with a Bird e-scooter, 6.17% contained persons wearing protective gear, 6.79% had protective gear somewhere in the post, and 1.54% of posts mentioned protective gear in the comment box. About 69.44% of the posts were reposts, and among reposts, 7.11% had persons wearing protective gear. Posts to Bird's official Instagram rarely showed e-scooters being used with protective gear. Photos of customers' experiences with Bird, via reposts, rarely featured protective gear potentially normalizing these behaviors among customers. Public health practitioners may need to establish interventions to promote use of protective gear while operating escooters.

KEYWORDS:

Electric scooter; Marketing; Public safety; Road safety; Social media; Technology

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