Omicron takes over the Covid-19 conversation on social media

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At the same time that Omi Kron In the United States and many other countries, it quickly surpassed delta to become the main strain of Covid-19, and it is also spreading on social media.

According to a Recode exclusive report collected by media intelligence company Zignal Labs, in a similar time frame, people posted significantly more information about omicron variants than about delta variants.

Compared with delta, within three weeks after each strain was first named by the WHO as a worrying variant, omicron was mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit about six times more frequently than delta. Within three weeks after each strain was identified by the CDC as a variant of interest (later than the WHO), the frequency of omicron being mentioned in the same social media channel increased 2.2 times.

Zignal Labs Chief Customer Officer and Director of Insights Jennifer Granston (Jennifer Granston) said: “Compared with delta, people talk about omicron more often and faster.” “It happened very, very fast.”

There are also signs that, compared with delta, people not only post more information, but also seek more information about omicron. According to data from Google Trends, on Google, the search rate for “omicron” has far exceeded 1.5 times that of “delta”, which peaked earlier this year.

A graph showing the popularity of Google search delta and omicron over time.
Google Trends

Social media analysts provide some possible explanations for this rise: The virus spreads faster than the delta variant, which means more people turn to social media to ask questions and share their concerns; compared with the early days of the pandemic, People are more willing to disclose their Covid-19 status publicly, so they Share their test results online.

Social media agency XX Artists and Used to be a “memetic librarian” on Tumblr.

Brennan described the “failureist atmosphere” and “gallows humor” that prevailed in the memes of omicron she was concerned about, “deeper than delta.” When people are tired of the seemingly endless cycle of infection; now that they have a better understanding of the virus, they may also be more willing to make jokes about it.

Then there is the New York media effect.

According to Zignal Labs, since omicron first became a variant of interest in late November, about 2% of all tweets about the variant also mentioned New York. The proliferation of journalists, influencers, and other types of media with a large number of followers posting about the variant helped omicron earn this nickname”Media variants. ”Many New Yorkers posted viral pictures on social media to show people Lined up around the city block​​ Take a Covid-19 test or TikTok A compilation of screenshots from their group text Show friends to remind each other that their Covid-19 status is set to loud pop music.

According to Zignal, despite the hype in New York, many of the most shared tweets mentioning omicron so far are not from New York City, but from outside the United States. According to Zignal, the most shared tweets as of December 17 were written in Thai, warning people to take omicron seriously.

In general, increasing and talking about omicron on social media is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, early conversations about omicron can warn the public to be more cautious as this highly contagious variant begins to spread.

However, the onslaught of social media chatter may also provide an opportunity for misinformation about the variant to enter online discussions, which has always been a Issues that have recurred since the pandemic began in early 2020.

“The one thing we tend to really focus on is advancing a specific agenda or goal, because when you have such a large-scale discussion and so much attention, it’s easy for people to inject information,” said Zignal Labs’ Glanston.

When we face this new wave of omicron at the end of 2021, it feels like we have regressed to the 2020 holiday peak in many ways. When people struggle to deal with this deja vu feeling, they talk more online, trying to understand how to adapt to this deja vu feeling makes sense. The ever-changing new normal.

This story was originally published in the Recode newsletter. Register here So you will not miss the next one!

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