Masters Thesis Defense “Analyzing Public View towards Vaccination using Twitter” By Rutuja Mahajan

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 10 am to Noon
304 Russ Engineering
Current Students

Committee:  Drs. Tanvi Banerjee, Co-Advisor, William Romine, Co-Advisor, and Travis Doom


Educating people about vaccination tends to target vaccine acceptance and reduction of hesitancy Social media provides a promising platform for studying public perception regarding vaccination. In this study, we harvested tweets over a year related to vaccines from February 2018 to January 2019. We present a two-stage classifier to: (1) classify the tweets as relevant or non-relevant and (2) categorize them in terms of pro-vaccination, anti-vaccination, or neutral outlook. We found that the classifier was able to distinguish clearly between anti-vaccination and pro-vaccination tweets, but also misclassified many of these as neutral. Using Latent Dirichlet Allocation, we found that two topics were sufficient to describe the corpus of tweets. These dealt with: (1) consequences of vaccination/non-vaccination, and (2) promotion of vaccination/non-vaccination. Finally, using the NRC emotion lexicon, we found practically significant differences in emotions expressed about vaccination between vaccine outlooks, but no practically significant temporal differences across a year.

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