Exploratory Spatiotemporal Analysis in Risk Communication during the MERS Outbreak in South Korea
The 2015 Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea gave rise to chaos caused by psychological anxiety, and it has been assumed that people shared rumors about hospital lists through social media. Sharing rumors is a common form of public perception and risk communication among individuals during an outbreak. Social media analysis offers an important window into the spatiotemporal patterns of public perception and risk communication about disease outbreaks. Such processes of socially mediated risk communication are a process of meme diffusion. This article aims to investigate the role of social media meme diffusion and its spatiotemporal patterns in public perception and risk communication. To do so, we applied analytical methods including the daily number of tweets for metropolitan cities and geovisualization with the weighted mean centers. The spatiotemporal patterns shown by Twitter users' interests in specific places, triggered by real space events, demonstrate the spatial interactions among places in public perception and risk communication. Public perception and risk communication about places are relevant to both social networks and spatial proximity to where Twitter users live and are interpreted in reference to both Zipf's law and Tobler's law.
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