Ebola virus disease and social media: A systematic review

Am J Infect Control. 2016 Dec 1;44(12):1660-1671. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.05.011. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Objectives: We systematically reviewed existing research pertinent to Ebola virus disease and social media, especially to identify the research questions and the methods used to collect and analyze social media.

Methods: We searched 6 databases for research articles pertinent to Ebola virus disease and social media. We extracted the data using a standardized form. We evaluated the quality of the included articles.

Results: Twelve articles were included in the main analysis: 7 from Twitter with 1 also including Weibo, 1 from Facebook, 3 from YouTube, and 1 from Instagram and Flickr. All the studies were cross-sectional. Eleven of the 12 articles studied ≥ 1of these 3 elements of social media and their relationships: themes or topics of social media contents, meta-data of social media posts (such as frequency of original posts and reposts, and impressions) and characteristics of the social media accounts that made these posts (such as whether they are individuals or institutions). One article studied how news videos influenced Twitter traffic. Twitter content analysis methods included text mining (n = 3) and manual coding (n = 1). Two studies involved mathematical modeling. All 3 YouTube studies and the Instagram/Flickr study used manual coding of videos and images, respectively.

Conclusions: Published Ebola virus disease-related social media research focused on Twitter and YouTube. The utility of social media research to public health practitioners is warranted.

Keywords: Health communication; Public health; Surveillance.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Public Opinion*
  • Social Media*