Opinions on Homeopathy for COVID-19 on Twitter

Jeevith Bopaiah, Kiran Garimella, Ramakanth Kavuluru

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

Homeopathy is a medical system originating in Germany more than 200 years ago. Based on prior investigations, mainstream health agencies and medical research communities indicate that there is little evidence that homeopathy can be an effective treatment for any specific health condition. However, it continues to be practiced as a popular form of alternative medicine in many countries, even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we mine opinions on homeopathy for COVID-19 expressed in Twitter data. Our experiments are conducted with a dataset of nearly 60K tweets collected during a seven month period ending in July 2020. We first built text classifiers (linear and neural models) to mine opinions on homeopathy (positive, negative, neutral) from tweets using a dataset of 2400 hand-labeled tweets obtaining an average macro F-score of 81.5% for the positive and negative classes. We applied this model to identify opinions from the full dataset. Our results show that the number of unique positive tweets is twice that of the number of unique negative tweets; but when including retweets, there are 23% more negative tweets overall indicating that negative tweets are getting more retweets and better traction on Twitter. Using a word shift graph analysis on the Twitter bios of authors of positive and negative tweets, we observe that opinions on homeopathy appear to be correlated with political/religious ideologies of the authors (e.g., liberal vs nationalist, atheist vs Hindu). To our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze public opinions on homeopathy on any social media platform. Our results surface a tricky landscape for public health agencies as they promote evidence-based therapies and preventative measures for COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWebSci 2022 - Proceedings of the 14th ACM Web Science Conference
Pages359-363
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450391917
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 26 2022
Event14th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2022 - Virtual, Online, Spain
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series

Conference

Conference14th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2022
Country/TerritorySpain
CityVirtual, Online
Period6/26/226/29/22

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 ACM.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • homeopathy
  • opinion mining
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software

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