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College of Information and Communications

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S.C. social media users support wearing masks

Posted June 15, 2020


Almost 65 percent of South Carolina social media conversations support wearing masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, according to an analysis by the University of South Carolina Social Media Insights Lab. By comparison, a little more than 18 percent of the posts oppose the practice while almost 17 percent of the posts were neutral.

The Lab analyzed 2,055 comments made on social media, primarily on Twitter, since last Wednesday, when the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) emphasized the importance of wearing masks. Also on Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster asked for “individual responsibility,” but refused to require the use of masks.

The governor’s stance drew online criticism. According to the lab’s Crimson Hexagon software, McMaster is the top “influencer” on the conversation.

“Our analysis of thousands of social media posts since early March shows South Carolinians are concerned about the coronavirus and are consistently supportive of efforts to mitigate its impact,” said Insights Lab manager Kaitlyn Park.


About the Social Media Insights Lab

The lab is part of the College of Information and Communications. It is used for teaching, academic research and public reports intended to help people better understand issues of the day.

The Insights Lab software, Crimson Hexagon, uses artificial intelligence to interpret data. View a full list of reports and follow the lab on Twitter at @UofSCInsights.

For media inquiries or to request graphic files, contact Rebekah Friedman at rebekahb@mailbox.sc.edu or 803-576-7270.

How is sentiment calculated?
The lab uses software developed by Crimson Hexagon, now known as BrandWatch following a merger. The software gauges the emotional tone of conversations using auto-sentiment artificial intelligence technology. This feature is useful for identifying patterns within large sets of social media data, but it should be noted that auto-sentiment has its limits. For example, it does not always recognize sarcasm, nor does it account for posts which may express more than one emotion.


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