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Canadians’ Anti-Masking Attitudes on Twitter During the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Author / Creator
    Sharafaddin-zadeh, Yekta
  • Several countries recommended universal masking as a preventive health measure to contain the
    spread of COVID-19 before public health officials in Canada started endorsing public mask wearing. In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, public use of face masks was controversial. Many Canadians took to social media (e.g., Twitter) to debate the use of face masks— who should wear which types of masks, when and how often, and why. In this study, we combined computing and social science techniques to extract likely Canadian tweets and qualitatively study Canadians’ anti-masking attitudes during the first wave of the pandemic (January to September 2020). We discuss some beliefs that may have contributed to the emergence of anti-mask sentiment by highlighting five major themes in the Twitter discourse (i.e., face mask efficacy, personal discomfort, perceived risk, rights and freedoms, and culture clash), and also ways that some Canadians attempted to synthesize these contrasting views. Our findings inform public health messaging and strategies for dealing with misinformation during health crises, and point to the role prominent social media figures can play in fostering (or not) a culture of open mindedness.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-640v-2w68
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.