Earthquake conspiracy discussion on Twitter

Erokhin, D. & Komendantova, N. ORCID: (2024). Earthquake conspiracy discussion on Twitter. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 11 (1) e454. 10.1057/s41599-024-02957-y.

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Project: sCience and human factOr for Resilient sociEty (CORE, H2020 101021746)


Natural disasters like earthquakes, and global crises like pandemics have historically captured the public’s imagination and prompted people to seek explanations. However, in times of limited information, these explanations can take the form of conspiracy theories, particularly regarding the origins or causes of such events. With the advent of social media conspiracy theories can spread quickly and easily, leaving little room for critical thinking. The focus of this study is the analysis of the so-called High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) conspiracy, which explains earthquakes through the employment of secret weather control weapons. This study aims to answer the research question of how the discourse on the HAARP conspiracy theory changes over time, and what are the potential catalysts for heightened attention to this conspiracy theory. This study uses the Twitter API to collect tweet frequencies about this conspiracy from January 2022 through March 2023. The empirical data include over one million tweets on HAARP. The sentiment analysis of the HAARP conspiracy theory is applied to the tweets before, during, and after the 6th of February 2023 earthquake in Syria and Turkey. In addition, this study investigates possible triggers of the development of the HAARP tweet frequency. This study finds that the frequency of HAARP discussion increases following a high-impact earthquake. There is also a positive correlation between average tweet sentiment and the number of tweets, which could indicate that the discussion of HAARP reinforces people’s beliefs. This study makes a significant contribution to the field of social psychology and communication by providing insights into the dynamics of belief reinforcement within online communities amidst heightened attention to conspiracy theories triggered by significant events. This knowledge has broader implications for understanding the impact of social media on public perception during crises.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2024 06:25
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2024 06:25

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