Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Technical Communication and Interactive Design

Faculty Sponsor Name

Sara Doan

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Virtual adjustments associated with the COVID-19 pandemic caused state and national government agencies to emphasize digital health communication (Hope, 2021), prompting users to turn to social media platforms for medical information (Walwema, 2021; Doan, 2021). This surge of social media usage left marginalized groups digitally underserved, highlighting the need for an ethical and universal strategy for the dissemination of health information (Baldwinson, 2018). New and universal content strategies following ethical guidelines would encourage preventive health behaviors in an inclusive and objective manner, minimizing misinformation and rhetorical barriers.(Cuello-Garcia et al., 2020).

Our presentation engages these interconnected issues and applies the results found from last year’s Symposium of Student Scholars (Kennedy & Doan, 2021), which focused on answering “How do the Twitter content strategies of large public health organizations such as the CDC differ from those of regional African American health organizations?”. Tweets from state public health organizations in the south, national health organizations like the CDC and the DHHS, and African American organizations circulated between March and November of 2020 were compared to find similarities and differences in their association with COVID-19 information. Results revealed that public health organizations are able to provide vast amounts of information, while African American health organizations struggle to continuously provide content. This difference results in information overload from public health organizations, which featured limited inclusivity within their Tweets, and less information from organizations featuring more inclusive content.

The associated organizations’ choices are rhetorically driven by their target audiences, purposes, and capacities to analyze their direct impact on various demographic groups. This presentation links specific characteristics of health organizations to different levels of public outreach, examining ways public health rhetorically excludes minorities through unanticipated digital redlining. Our presentation combats existing inequalities by providing content strategy tips to create inclusive messaging that relies on kairos, organization size, and localization.

Keywords: COVID-19, Minorities, Content Strategy, Twitter Accounts, Health Communication, Misinformation, Engagement, African American

Disciplines

Communication | Graphic Communications | Health Communication | Race and Ethnicity | Social Media

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, synchronously via Teams

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Ethics of Inclusive Digital Rhetorics: Communicating Public Health on Social Media

Virtual adjustments associated with the COVID-19 pandemic caused state and national government agencies to emphasize digital health communication (Hope, 2021), prompting users to turn to social media platforms for medical information (Walwema, 2021; Doan, 2021). This surge of social media usage left marginalized groups digitally underserved, highlighting the need for an ethical and universal strategy for the dissemination of health information (Baldwinson, 2018). New and universal content strategies following ethical guidelines would encourage preventive health behaviors in an inclusive and objective manner, minimizing misinformation and rhetorical barriers.(Cuello-Garcia et al., 2020).

Our presentation engages these interconnected issues and applies the results found from last year’s Symposium of Student Scholars (Kennedy & Doan, 2021), which focused on answering “How do the Twitter content strategies of large public health organizations such as the CDC differ from those of regional African American health organizations?”. Tweets from state public health organizations in the south, national health organizations like the CDC and the DHHS, and African American organizations circulated between March and November of 2020 were compared to find similarities and differences in their association with COVID-19 information. Results revealed that public health organizations are able to provide vast amounts of information, while African American health organizations struggle to continuously provide content. This difference results in information overload from public health organizations, which featured limited inclusivity within their Tweets, and less information from organizations featuring more inclusive content.

The associated organizations’ choices are rhetorically driven by their target audiences, purposes, and capacities to analyze their direct impact on various demographic groups. This presentation links specific characteristics of health organizations to different levels of public outreach, examining ways public health rhetorically excludes minorities through unanticipated digital redlining. Our presentation combats existing inequalities by providing content strategy tips to create inclusive messaging that relies on kairos, organization size, and localization.

Keywords: COVID-19, Minorities, Content Strategy, Twitter Accounts, Health Communication, Misinformation, Engagement, African American

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