In our uncertain world, especially during the turbulent coronavirus outbreak, data and insights matter. That is why Synthesio, an Ipsos company, is publishing regular updates to follow the social dynamics and conversations on the coronavirus outbreak. Unsurprisingly, social conversations on coronavirus are exploding and shifting from news-driven discussions to more emotionally charged and opinion-driven online interactions. Online conversations are becoming much more political, questioning, challenging, or supporting authorities’ measures and debating personal actions to be taken. Posts are also practical as the virus has a massive impact on day to day lives.

Social Conversations are Exploding, Driven by the Dynamic in the USA

With more than 36 Million original social posts in the past seven days and about 5.4 Million on March 16th alone, coronavirus’ online presence is massive.

In the past few weeks, the United States has risen to the top of online conversations, with more organic mentions about coronavirus than China, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom combined.


Politicians & Activists Influence Social Conversations

Whereas the economy represented the sharpest growing topic in the prior period (February 23rd-March 4th) and ranked as the 2nd most talked-about topic on social media (1M original mentions last week), now discussions about authorities, political responses, and safety measures stand at the same level (900K original mentions last week). Interestingly, conversations about politics and authorities’ actions come mostly from social networks (about ⅔ of the conversation) or forums and blogs (28%). This shift to social platforms means that people are interacting extensively with authorities’ decision announcements and commenting on politicians’ posts.

The volume of organic mentions about authorities and politics are closely following politicians’ communication and announcements about public measures and restrictions.

As we can see from our Twitter data from February 9th to March 10th, Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, or Hillary Clinton in the US, have been very active in challenging Donald Trump’s position and mobilizing their supports to put Donald Trump under pressure. Interestingly, none of the top 20 influencers on Twitter are health officials.

Donald Trump’s Posts


United States President Donald Trump announced Congress’s decision to provide $8 Billion to fight coronavirus on March 4th and the state of emergency with $50 Billion more on March 13th. His March 4th message garnered a mix of reactions, from relief to outrage. Our political polling shows that even this issue has the power to divide.

The 5.8k replies have become a battleground for political conversation. His 73.5 million Twitter followers either commented on his post praising his containment of the disease or attacking about how poorly they believe the United States to be handling the crisis. These reactions offer Democrats a platform to enter the debate and garner support of the population during what is still an election season.

Peppered into Donald Trump’s usual menu of attacks and claims of “fake news,” President Trump has been promoting his self-declared “stellar” handling of the coronavirus epidemic on American soil.

Elon Musk’s Influence on Conversations


The remarkable peak in mentions last week illustrates how coronavirus has become a source of debate and is still a playground for sarcasm and irony online. Many people turn to post provocative or sarcastic posts about the outbreak. With 32 million followers, Elon Musk’s reach is broad. His opinions about the overstatement of the virality of coronavirus gathered over 1.7m likes, 350.8k retweets, and 43.5k comments.

Musk’s first tweet reads, “The coronavirus panic is dumb,” sparking a wide range of emotions. In some cases, people were relieved and agreed with Musk. Others, however, tried to demonstrate Musk was incorrect, following up with sources like the WHO and the CDC to prove the seriousness of coronavirus globally.

Responses to COVID-19 Actions Put in Place

Diving into individual generated content, as expected, there are debates about actions to be taken. With all the unknowns and emotions behind this new pandemic, people are overwhelmed by the news and the added element of fake news. Individuals are exposed to the variability of measures taken across the world and can be negatively impacted personally by actions put in place. The influence of personalities and politicians encourage certain people to share their personal opinion online. From “just the flu” to “the worst illness,” people are debating the seriousness of the outbreak, the appropriate level of containment, and behavioral changes needed. This can create both under or overreactions in the populations. We can see this in French debates online about quickly changing containment measures. Quite a few posts denounced the lack of consciousness of the French people this weekend, speaking in favor of staying home and increased strictness

We will keep monitoring these trends and will post updates soon. Find more about recent Ipsos releases about coronavirus here. Please stay safe in the meantime and take precautions by following official guidelines.

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