Big Data and Society 8 (1) (2021)

Medical and public health professionals recommend wearing face masks to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease of 2019. While the majority of people in the United States support wearing face masks as an effective tool to combat COVID-19, a smaller percentage declared the recommendation by public health agencies as a government imposition and an infringement on personal liberty. Social media play a significant role in amplifying public health issues, whereby a minority against the imposition can speak loudly, perhaps using tactics of verbal aggression taking the form of toxic language. We investigated the role that toxicity plays in the online discourse around wearing face masks. Overall, we found tweets including anti-mask hashtags were significantly more likely to use toxic language, while tweets with pro-mask hashtags were somewhat less toxic with the exception of #WearADamnMask. We conclude that the tensions between these two positions raise doubt and uncertainty around the issue, which make it difficult for health communicators to break through the clutter in order to combat the infodemic. Public health agencies and other governmental institutions should monitor toxicity trends on social media in order to better ascertain prevailing sentiment toward their recommendations and then apply these data-driven insights to refine and adapt their risk communication messaging toward mask wearing, vaccine uptake, and other interventions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/20539517211023533
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,316
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Social Psychology.F. H. Allport - 1924 - Journal of Philosophy 21 (21):583-585.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Masks in Medicine: Metaphors and Morality.Lindsey Grubbs & Gail Geller - 2021 - Journal of Medical Humanities 42 (1):103-107.
The COVID-19 Containment in Vietnam: What Are We Doing?Toan Luu Duc Huynh - 2020 - Journal of Global Health 10 (1):010338.
COVID-19 Community Mask Wearing: Lessons From Foot-Binding and Infibulation.Steven B. Rothman - 2020 - Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 30 (7):354-357.
Don’t Uncover that Face! Covid-19 Masks and the Niqab: Ironic Transfigurations of the ECtHR’s Intercultural Blindness.Mario Ricca - 2022 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 35 (3):1119-1143.


Added to PP index

Total views
9 ( #954,601 of 2,519,272 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #407,861 of 2,519,272 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes