The importance of reliable social media information during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


On December 2019, in Wuhan-China, SARS-Cov2 coronavirus emerged, causing the COVID-19 pandemic, responsible by June 29 2020, for 10.112.754 cases, and 501.562 deaths, in over 213 countries. Our research aims to study the impact of COVID-19 on Facebook and Instagram posting activity, regarding publications with word ‘Coronavirus', their total interaction and source, as well as an analysis of possible fake news

A sample of 4.000 posts (3.025 Facebook and 975 Instagram posts) was extracted through a web-based social media analytics tool, over two periods: January 10-February 27 (P1) and 01 May-June 28 (P2). Data were analysed using Microsoft tools. The 2.000 P1 posts generated 77.654.161 interactions - 70% likes, 4% comments and 27% shares. However, the 2.000 P2 posts prompted more than four times engagement, with 330.930.859 interactions - 92% likes, 2% comments and 6% shares. From January to February, likes increased 59%, but comments and shares decreased by 27% and 57%, respectively: users are generally more engaged but at a less profound level. From May to June, likes, comments and shares decreased 41%, 43% and 51%, as users gradually come out of confinement.

Certain events boosted engagement: on January 21, as the first case in the United States was announced, 767.280 interactions were reported, a 21-fold increase from the previous day; February 16 was the day with more monthly engagement when the first case in France was announced. January 25, CNN posted the Facebook post with more interactions of the month (2.510.695). On February, the post with most interactions was from Real Madrid Football Club. On P2, the two most popular posts were from The United Nations International Children's Fund Facebook page (May post had 4.153.981 interactions). Social media is nowadays the most used source of information in the world. In a health crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, quality information is necessary to keep the population calm and informed on the correct steps to take.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupl. 5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


  • Covid-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Social Media

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