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Mayo-junio de 2020, vol. 29, núm. 3

Covid-19 tweeting in English: Gender differences

Mike Thelwall; Saheeda Thelwall

This article is available in open access

Abstract: At the start of 2020, Covid-19 became the most urgent threat to global public health. Uniquely in recent times, governments have imposed partly voluntary, partly compulsory restrictions on the population to slow the spread of the virus. In this context, public attitudes and behaviors are vitally important for reducing the death rate. Analyzing tweets about the disease may therefore give insights into public reactions that may help guide public information campaigns. This article analyses 3,038,026 English tweets about Covid-19 from March 10 to 23, 2020. It focuses on one relevant aspect of public reaction: gender differences. The results show that females are more likely to tweet about the virus in the context of family, social distancing and healthcare, whereas males are more likely to tweet about sports cancellations, the global spread of the virus, and political reactions. Thus, women seem to be taking a disproportionate share of the responsibility for directly keeping the population safe. The detailed results may be useful to inform public information announcements and to help understand the spread of the virus. For example, failure to impose a sporting bans whilst encouraging social distancing may send mixed messages to males.

Keywords: Covid-19; Coronavirus; Twitter; Gender; Public health information.