Privacy in the Pandemic - Commenting and Liking Behavior on Social Media Concerning COVID-19

Creators: Haug, Maximilian and Gewald, Heiko
Title: Privacy in the Pandemic - Commenting and Liking Behavior on Social Media Concerning COVID-19
Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Event Title: (Proceedings of the) Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA)
Event Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Event Dates: March, 4-5, 2022
Projects: CROSS
Date: 2022
Divisions: Informationsmanagement
Abstract (ENG): Until December 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic reached around 260 million cumulative cases and 5.2 million deaths worldwide. During the pandemic, society faced several problems associated with the novelle coronavirus, such as the emergence of an infodemic. This term describes various forms of false information or misinformation concerning COVID-19 and its related topics. Throughout the pandemic, misinformation about the efficacy or even danger of masks (in the early stages), symptoms of COVID-19 and of course the various negative ramifications of the COVID-19 vaccinations could be found on multiple social media channels. Mainly the misinformation about the vaccines slows down the efforts in combating the virus. The many-to-many network structure specifically facilitates this infodemic as we can find it on social media. Individuals participating on social media can act as the content originator or as a node that shares and spreads further information. Since the COVID-19 pandemic virtually affected every aspect of society, it remained a prominent topic of social media through the years. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a flood of health information being disclosed, resulting in the said infodemic, which continues to this day. Therefore, we want to shed light on the role of privacy on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic and its influence on the disclosure of health-related information. We ask: “How do privacy-related concepts influence commenting and liking of COVID-19 vaccine social media posts?” We used a scenario-based study to answer the research question and asked U.S. citizens. To test the hypotheses, we constructed a social media scenario. In this scenario, the participant is on a social media website to make it possible to comment and like posts. The participants (n=148) engaged with a post about COVID-19 vaccination, reaffirming previously held beliefs. Therefore, this scenario is settled under the umbrella of confirmation bias. We find trusting beliefs to be highly influential on commenting and liking. This influence is as expected since we would argue that people are willing to disclose more personal information if individuals trust a company to handle data in a trustworthy manner. The findings suggest that privacy risk beliefs are diminished under confirmation bias and do not directly influence commenting or liking behavior. Another influencing factor might be the topic of opinion disclosure. The COVID-19 topic and pandemic are socially very important. Not participating in communication concerning COVID-19 might be seen as even riskier than privacy issues. This is reflected by the significant influence of the topic's importance on commenting behavior.
Forthcoming: No
Language: English

Haug, Maximilian and Gewald, Heiko (2022) Privacy in the Pandemic - Commenting and Liking Behavior on Social Media Concerning COVID-19. In: (Proceedings of the) Conference on Health IT and Analytics (CHITA), March, 4-5, 2022, Washington, D.C., USA.

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