Image: Camilo Jimenez
Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020


Under the assumption that nations in the global South are welcoming and in need of vaccines, and given years of massive immunization campaigns championed by international organizations, misinformation on vaccines has been understudied in Latin America. However, the current pandemic has spread along with misleading information regarding treatments to control the virus, bringing to the forefront debates about a possible vaccine. Drawing on the case of Colombia, this study aims to identify the different types of information and misinformation circulating on social media regarding a Covid-19 vaccine to better understand how contradictory information can influence future immunization campaigns. The proposed research specifically asks: What are the main contents and debates circulating on Twitter and Facebook about immunization against Covid-19? How does this information change over time as efforts to produce a vaccine progress? And how do social media users interact with Covid-19 vaccine information and misinformation? To answer these questions, we propose a mixed-methods research design that combines text mining and a nationally representative online survey. We will study Colombia-based tweets and Facebook posts that focus on political debates, public-health policies, scientific developments, and rumors. The survey will collect information from a nationally representative sample to assess to what extent citizens’ opinions align with social media content and the political attitudes that characterize them. By recognizing Covid-19 immunization discourses on social media and how they influence citizens’ views of a potential long-term solution to the virus, our results shed light on future challenges to vaccination plans.

Principal Investigator

Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga

Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes

Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga is associate professor of political science and the codirector of the Observatorio de la Democracia at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). He received his PhD from the University Pittsburgh in 2011. Rodriguez-Raga’s research looks at political behavior and institutions. His current interests include the impact of social media on political decisions made by elected officials and common citizens, as well as the attitudes, perceptions, fears, and expectations of grassroots right-wing citizens in Latin America. His research on these subjects makes use of a variety of methodologies, including textual analysis, web scraping, and public opinion surveys. Dr. Rodriguez-Raga has published multiple articles and book chapters both in English and Spanish on political institutions, electoral systems, political parties, legislatures, and high courts. He has led the studies of the Americas Barometer in Colombia since 2004. In 2017, Rodriguez-Raga was a member of the Special Electoral Commission created by the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrilla group.