COVID-19

Government monitoring various social media accounts including Tony Holohan and Vicky Phelan

Government monitoring various social media accounts including Tony Holohan and Vicky Phelan

Digital Desk Staff

Government departments are closely monitoring social media and keeping detailed accounts of topics that have criticised and praised them throughout the pandemic.

As the Irish Examiner reports, there are hundreds of pages of analysis from the Department of Health and Department of Education on Twitter, Reddit, and message board activity on issues concerning their departments.Β 

Only two out the hundreds of pages are dedicated to misinformation.

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Most of the analysis ranges from topics such as the popularity of the 6pm news, concern for chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and queues at garden centres to more contentious topics such as outbreaks in direct provision, anti-mask sentiment, and opposition to social distancing.

There is an extensive concentration on the activity of journalists throughout the reports as well as anecdotal stories about how Covid-19 is affecting different parts of society.

Certain journalists or columnists come up repeatedly in the Department of Health's analysis, including but not limited to staff from the Irish Examiner, RTÉ, Newstalk, Virgin Media, as well as other major newspapers and public figures.

The Department of Health says the reports "do not pick out specific people", but "capture the dominant trending topics on social media of that day based on the volume of interaction". However, some of the tweets included have fewer than 30 interactions.

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Notable health professionals including Dr Holohan feature extensively, as does Dr MaithiΓΊ Γ“ Tuthuail, who later found himself at the centre of a political scandal over leaked documents.Β 

Campaigners Dr Ilona Duffy, John Wall, and Vicky Phelan all feature in the analysis of critical tweets about cancer screenings.

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