Study period: August 7th 12:00 am to August 9th 11:59 pm
Posts + Interactions: 3,286 related posts (including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, discussion boards, blogs, etc.) + 282,772 interactions
Research target classification: Trend development
Methodology: This study uses Wisers’ artificial intelligence technology to conduct data mining, sentiment analysis, semantic analysis, keyword research and other processes.
The golden 72 hours: Wisers has conducted big data analysis for years. Our research has found that the first 72 hours after an incident or policy announcement is the best and easiest time to analyse public opinion on the Internet.
Free voluntary Hong Kong-wide testing
Being based in Hong Kong, Wisers is keen to stay up to date regarding all the news and updates related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The "Universal Community Testing Programme" is one such important local anti-epidemic policy which was announced recently. Our goal is to use big data to help the government and all sectors of society to accurately and comprehensively understand the public’s thoughts on this policy, providing an objective and reliable reference for future policy formulation.
From the big data trend chart, it can be seen that the interest in the policy was focused and short: the most intense period of public opinion was within 3 hours from the release of the government press conference (from 3 pm to 6 pm on August 7), which triggered 176,628 interactions. This accounts for nearly 80% of the total interactions over the 72-hour period. However, both the number of interactions and the number of posts dropped significantly after this. Amongst the two variables, the number of interactions fell the sharpest. The number of interactions for the whole of August 8 was less than that of August 7 from 12 am to 3 pm, with only 16,772 (total interactions were nearly 6%).
These results are reflected in the short-lived heated discussion at the press conference. Even though some pages still had attention, the original discussion focus had lost the attention of netizens. Driven by the lack of new focus, public opinion is unsustainable even the day after the press conference.
The discovery of "The Hottest Post" further reinforces this point.
In the 3 days, the hottest posts were all from August 7th:
1. "Chief Executive Carrie Lam and a number of officials will open a press conference in the afternoon. It is expected that voluntary testing arrangements will be announced. The background picture of the press conference reads" The Chinese Central Government fully supports the SAR to fight the epidemic" (Stand News Facebook page). The number of interactions for this post reached 10,174.
2. "Several press releases got the news saying that Carrie Lam will meet with reporters at 3pm and is expected to announce free testing for all people... " (100Most Instagram account). This post received 9,499 interactions.
3. "The government is finally willing to conduct Hongkong-wide testing" (Hong Kong discussion forum Instagram account). The number of interactions for this post reached 9,462.
Top 3 hot words
ii. People are supportive of the government for implementing universal testing in the community, thankful for the Chinese central government’s efforts of sending experts to Hong Kong that will assist in preparing for Hong Kong-wide testing, and keen to affirm the contribution of the government’s Hong Kong-wide testing policy to fight the epidemic.The negative views──
1. The top 3 hottest posts are focused on holding press conferences and announcing policy. They are not commenting on the policy itself. One can see that within the first 72 hours of the announcement, the public was very concerned about the arrangements and details of the new anti-epidemic policy. However, comments on the policy itself have not become the mainstream of public opinion.
Note that although the word "government(政府)" is listed on both the positive and negative word lists, it appeared more than 5 times more often in negative comments than it did in positive ones, making it even more prolific than "mainland(大陸)" and "closed borders(封關)". From this, it is clear that public opinion towards the government is very unfavourable. Furthermore, there are plenty of strong and sensitive words or phrases on the list of negative words "send to China(送中)", "garbage(垃圾)", and "profit transfer(利益輸送)”.
This indicates that although the topic of "Hong Kong-wide testing" is not hotly discussed, it has considerable potential to provoke the emotions of the Hong Kong people. It is recommended to continue to pay attention on the public opinion towards the policy.
2. Combining the above 2 points, and according to chapter 3 of the ‘Wisers’ Online Epidemic Report 2.0’: ‘Comments on Anti-epidemic Policies on the Internet: Summary of Key’, we can see that as a whole, "border closure(封關)", "quarantine(隔離)", "social distancing rules(限聚令)" and "anti-epidemic measures(檢疫)" accounted for more than 90% of post volume and 95% of engagement.
This clearly reflects the government’s implementation of the "Universal Community Testing Programme" in response to many citizens’ demands.