The words of COVID-19: analysis of tweets in Italy

Scritto da Stefano De Luca

8 April 2020

Phase 2 of the # covid19 emergency has opened, but the debate has never been more heated than ever. After all, during the #lockdown we were in a kind of suspended state, but now that we can, or at least we could, do something more, all the doubts have emerged.

I tried to look at social media to see the most used words from April 15 to today, using Twitter #data. It begins to be an analysis of #bigdata because they are many and varied, in which we used Natural Language Processing and data visualization techniques.

Looking at a word cloud of all terms, we find all the words we were bombarded with. Masks emerge, concerns for the Lombardy Region, the request for a vaccine, the names of the leaders.

I then tried to select some words that seemed interesting and great attention emerges for Conte but, this is interesting, for Bill Gates: we know that he has now become a great tycoon and that he is financing a vaccine (also Italian-English), but not I would have expected it to have become a beacon for Italians! But one of the most discussed topics is precisely that of the vaccine, we hope it will arrive soon.

I therefore selected all the tweets that contained some words: fear, government, school, vaccine and work. Some considerations word for word.


Is there fear and who needs support from whom? For once the Italians expect help from the state: “government”, “Conte”, “Italy”, also “Renzi” clearly emerge. And then the fears: children, life, staying at home; however little emerges the elderly, the great victims of this pandemic.


So let’s look at the government: Count on all, followed by Salvini and Renzi, institutional commitment and the two Mattei who polarize the discussion, but only after Bill Gates, the real saint we are voting on. Then the emergency, Fontana, security. And once again, the elderly are absent.


What about the eternal Cinderella? What do you say about the school? Here, we talk about children, teachers, what has been done in China.

It seems that the rest of Europe is not relevant as models.

But what is interesting, and at the same time embarrassing, is the total absence of debate on universities. Minister of Research and University, let us to hear you!


The vaccine will save us, we are all sure. And Saint Bill Gates will let us have it! Maybe something the government will do, maybe something the Euro area. But everything is very nuanced … there is only expectation and hope.


Let’s close on the real terror of this moment, the work. Will we be made safe? Will they come back to be sick and will nurses and doctors have to take care of us? Is the emergency over?

Phase 1, phase 2 but no recovery. There are no words of hope, only fear and a lot.


The data was processed by Twitter using the APIs made available. They have been downloaded and processed with the R language, using the packages “tm” (text mining) and “nlp” (natural language processing). Once processed, they were viewed on Tableau.

We have not published them on the site because they are very large and slow processing.

If you are interested in learning more, send me a message!

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