This is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence.
Downloaded: 1681 times
In recent months, COVID-19 has become a global pandemic and had a huge impact on the world. People under different conditions have very different attitudes toward the epidemic. Due to the real-time and large-scale nature of social media, we can continuously obtain a massive amount of public opinion information related to the epidemic from social media. In particular, researchers may ask questions such as “how is the public reacting to COVID-19 in China during different stages of the pandemic?”, “what factors affect the public opinion orientation in China?”, and so on. To answer such questions, we analyze the pandemic-related public opinion information on Weibo, China's largest social media platform. Specifically, we have first collected a large amount of COVID-19-related public opinion microblogs. We then use a sentiment classifier to recognize and analyze different groups of users’ opinions. In the collected sentiment-orientated microblogs, we try to track the public opinion through different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we analyze more key factors that might have an impact on the public opinion of COVID-19 (e.g. users in different provinces or users with different education levels). Empirical results show that the public opinions vary along with the key factors of COVID-19. Furthermore, we analyze the public attitudes on different public-concerning topics, such as staying at home and quarantine. In summary, we uncover interesting patterns of users and events as an insight into the world through the lens of a major crisis.