The deadly outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has posed grand challenges to human society; in response to the spread of COVID-19, many activities have moved online and social media has played an important role by enabling people to discuss their experiences and feelings of this global crisis. To help combat the prolonged pandemic that has exposed vulnerabilities impacting community resilience, in this paper, based on our established large-scale COVID-19 related social media data, we propose and develop an integrated framework (named Dr.Emotion) to learn disentangled representations of social media posts (i.e., tweets) for emotion analysis and thus to gain deep insights into public perceptions towards COVID-19. In Dr.Emotion, for given social media posts, we first post-train a transformer-based model to obtain the initial post embeddings. Since users may implicitly express their emotions in social media posts which could be highly entangled with the content in the context, to address this challenge for emotion analysis, we propose an adversarial disentangler by integrating emotion-independent (i.e., sentiment-neutral) priors of the posts generated by another post-trained transformer-based model to separate and disentangle the implicitly encoded emotions from the content in latent space for emotion classification at the first attempt. Extensive experimental studies are conducted to fully evaluate Dr.Emotion and promising results demonstrate its performance in emotion analysis by comparisons with state-of-the-art baseline methods. By exploiting our developed Dr.Emotion, we further perform emotion analysis based on a large number of social media posts (i.e., 107,434 COVID-19 related tweets posted by users in the United States through Mar 1, 2020 to Sep 30, 2020) and provide in-depth investigation from both temporal and geographical perspectives, based on which additional work can be conducted to extract and transform the constructive ideas, experiences and support into actionable information to improve community resilience in responses to a variety of crises created by COVID-19 and well beyond.

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