Khairulnissa A.K., Logeswary a/p Krisnan, Manimaran a/l Krishnan Kaundan & *Ahlam Abdul Aziz
Social media’s potential to directly interact with the public and stakeholders is huge and pertinent, especially during a health crisis. This research applied the phenomenological approach to explore themes related to COVID-19 that emerged on Facebook and Twitter before the Movement Control Order (MCO)(1 January – 17 March 2020). For this purpose, the top 10 influencers/pages from Facebook and Twitter, including The Ministry of Health’s social account were selected, pooling around 51 million Malaysian Facebook and Twitter users and engaging around 6,068 mentions. The thematic analysis reveals that a number of health, politics, economic and policy issues emerged before the Malaysian government enforced the MCO on 18 March 2020. The themes that emerged varied according to the situation and the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings enable us to understand better public sentiment and the possible different points of view regarding the dissemination of COVID-19 related information on social media platforms. These insights can help government health agencies to connect effectively with the public about health and relevant preventive measures. Specifically, this can support public health stakeholders in developing tailored strategies to monitor and prevent the COVID-19 spread.
Keywords: Facebook, Twitter, social media, COVID-19, before MCO