On the 23rd of April 2022, the health ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola after a case was confirmed in Mbandaka city in Équateur province. The epidemic is the fourteenth Ebola outbreak in the sub-Saharan African country since 1976, and the third in Équateur province since 2018. The announcement by the health authorities generated a significant spike in online discussions about the event in the DRC, including on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. In this brief report we summarise the main takeaways from our long-term monitoring of these social media discussions
First Reactions on Social Media: Disbelief and Widespread Suspicions of Foul Play
Analysis suggests that many Congolese citizens reacted in disbelief at the news of yet another Ebola outbreak in the DRC. Amidst this sense of incredulity, the majority of those posting on social media expressed suspicions that foul play may have been behind it. Several possibilities in this regard tended to be evoked by commentators.1
Most expressed views that the renewed presence of Ebola in Équateur was either invented or deliberately brought to the region for economic purposes. In this vein, the phrase Ebola business was regularly evoked by commentators as was the case in previous outbreaks in previous years.