Wearing a mask by the general public has been a controversial issue from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as the public authorities have had mixed messages, either advising people not to wear masks if uninfected, to wear as a protective measure, to wear them only when inside a building/room with insufficient air flow or to wear them in all the public places. To date, the governments have had different policies regarding mask-wearing by the general public depending on the COVID-19 pandemic evolution. In this context, the paper analyzes the general public’s opinion regarding mask-wearing for the one-year period starting from 9 January 2020, when the first tweet regarding mask-wearing in the COVID-19 context has been posted. Classical machine learning and deep learning algorithms have been considered in analyzing the 8,795,633 tweets extracted. A random sample of 29,613 tweets has been extracted and annotated. The tweets containing news and information related to mask-wearing have been included in the neutral
category, while the ones containing people’s opinions (for or against) have been marked using a symmetrical approach into in favor
categories. Based on the analysis, it has been determined that most of the mask tweets are in the area of in favor
, while a smaller percentage of tweets and retweets are in the against
category. The evolution of the opinions expressed through tweets can be further monitored for extracting the public perspective on mask-wearing in times of COVID-19.
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