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Sep 30, 2020 Article
COVID-19 in the South Pacific: science communication, Facebook and ‘coconut wireless’

by Vipul Khosla and Prashanth Pillay

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the criticality of science communication. Utilising a mixed-methods approach, this article takes an audience-focused perspective to analysing COVID-19 related social media posts on 23 popular South Pacific community Facebook pages over a four-month period across eight South Pacific countries. We analyse how audiences co-opt scientific terms, address information gaps and embed it in their lived experience. It is ascertained that online conversations around COVID-19 in the Pacific are intermeshed with both scientific fact and, personal accounts and rumours, referred to locally as ‘coconut wireless’, problematising established modes of empirical enquiry.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020