Emergent health risks and audience information engagement on social media

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Abstract

Social media can effectively reach large audiences and serve as an indicator for the public's sentiment and engagement in situations of disease outbreaks. This study used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Facebook posts between March 18 and October 31, 2014, surrounding the 2014 Ebola outbreak, to look at the audience engagement with online health information. The CDC submitted fewer posts about Ebola than about non-Ebola topics, but audience engagement with Ebola posts was significantly higher, and men were more interested in Ebola posts and submitted more comments per user.

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