Covid-19 Vaccine Discussion on Cyber, Relational and Physical Spaces

During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown and social distancing policies have greatly limited human activities in the physical space, and people relied on social media to stay connected while being physically apart. With Andrew Crooks and Li Yin, we studied how social media affects information propagation from physical to relational and cyber spaces.  


With the advent of social media, human dynamics studied in purely physical space have been extended to that of  a cyber and relational context. However, connections and interactions between these hybrid spaces have not  been sufficiently investigated. The “space-place (Splatial)” framework proposed in recent years allows capturing  human activities in the hybrid of spaces. This study applies the Splatial framework to examine the information  propagation between cyber, relational, and physical spaces through a case study of Covid-19 vaccine debates in  New York State (NYS). Whereby the physical space represents the regional boundaries and locations of social  media (i.e., Twitter) users in NYS, the relational space indicates the social networks of these NYS users, and the  cyber space captures the larger conversational context of the vaccination debate. Our results suggest that the  Covid-19 vaccine debate is not polarized across all three spaces as compared to that of other vaccines. However,  the rate of users with a pro-vaccine stance decreases from physical to relational and cyber spaces. We also found  that while users from different spaces interact with each other, they also engage in local communications with  users from the same region or same space, and distance-based and boundary-confined clusters exist in cyber and  relational space communities. These results based on the Splatial framework not only shed light on the vaccination debates but also help to define and elucidate the relationships between the three spaces. The intense  interactions between spaces suggest incorporating people’s relational network and cyber presence in physical  place-making.

Full Reference:

Yin, F., Crooks, A., & Yin, L. (2022). Information propagation on cyber, relational, and physical spaces about Covid-19 vaccine: Using social media and splatial framework. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 101887. Available at: