June 13, 2021

Research Article: “Twitter Use in Scientific Communication Revealed by Visualization of Information Spreading by Influencers Within Half a Year After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident”

The following research article was recently published by PLoS One.

Title

Twitter Use in Scientific Communication Revealed by Visualization of Information Spreading by Influencers Within Half a Year After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident

Authors

\asaharu Tsubokura
Department of Radiation Protection
Soma Central Hospital, Soma, Fukushima, Japan

Yosuke Onoue
Kyoto University

Hiroyuki A. Torii
University of Tokyo

Saori Suda
Kyoto University

Kohei Mori
Hamamatsu University School of Medicine

Yoshitaka Nishikawa
Kyoto University

Akihiko Ozaki
Department of Surgery
Minami-soma Municipal General Hospital, Minami-soma, Fukushima, Japan

Kazuko Uno
Louis Pasteur Center for Medical Research, Kyoto, Japan

Source

PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203594
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203594

Abstract

Scientific communication through social media, particularly Twitter has been gaining importance in recent years. As such, it is critical to understand how information is transmitted and dispersed through outlets such as Twitter, particularly in emergency situations where there is an urgent need to relay scientific information.

The purpose of this study is to examine how original tweets and retweets on Twitter were used to diffuse radiation related information after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

Out of the Twitter database, we purchased all tweets (including replies) and retweets related to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident and or radiation sent from March 2nd, 2011 to September 15th, 2011.

This time frame represents the first six months after the East Japan earthquake, which occurred on March 11th, 2011. Using the obtained data, we examined the number of tweets and retweets and found that only a small number of Twitter users were the source of the original posts that were retweeted during the study period. We have termed these specific accounts as “influencers”. We identified the top 100 influencers and classified the contents of their tweets into 3 groups by analyzing the document vectors of the text. Then, we examined the number of retweets for each of the 3 groups of influencers, and created a retweet network diagram to assess how the contents of their tweets were being spread. The keyword “radiation” was mentioned in over 24 million tweets and retweets during the study period. Retweets accounted for roughly half (49.7%) of this number, and the top 2% of Twitter accounts defined as “influencers” were the source of the original posts that accounted for 80.3% of the total retweets. The majority of the top 100 influencers had individual Twitter accounts bearing real names. While retweets were intensively diffused within a fixed population, especially within the same groups with similar document vectors, a group of influencers accounted for the majority of retweets one month after the disaster, and the share of each group did not change even after proven scientific information became more available.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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