Words matter: how privacy concerns and conspiracy theories spread on Twitter

Marco Visentin*, Annamaria Tuan, Giandomenico Di Domenico

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The use of contact-tracing apps to curb the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic has stimulated social media debates on consumers’ privacy concerns about the use and storage of sensitive data and on conspiracy theories positing that these apps are part of plans against individuals’ freedom. By analyzing the type of language of tweets, we found which words, linguistic style, and emotions conveyed by tweets are more likely to be associated with consumers’ privacy concerns and conspiracy theories and how they affect virality. To do so, we analyze a set of 5615 tweets related to the Italian tracing app “Immuni”. Results suggest that consumers’ privacy concerns and conspiracy theories belong to different domains and exert different effects on the virality of tweets. Furthermore, the characteristics of the text (namely, complexity, certainty and emotions) cue different Twitter users’ behaviors. This study helps researchers and managers to infer the psychological mechanisms that lead people to spread tweets about privacy concerns and conspiracy theories as well as how these texts impact the user who receives it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Early online date13 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 13 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • privacy concerns
  • consumer privacy
  • conspiracy theory
  • Twitter
  • virality
  • contact-tracing apps

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