24 Mar Coronavirus and Social Media
Coronavirus. Everyone is talking about it, and rightly so. The government have just introduced stricter rules to ensure people are remaining at home unless necessary to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
It is a time of uncertainty for everyone. People have lost their jobs and loved ones and as of today, we aren’t sure when things will go back to normal.
Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, the number of times it has been mentioned on social media has grown exponentially. People are using social media to air frustrations, ask for advice and for general support.
So, how many times has it been mentioned since the outbreak began? Let’s take a look.
In the middle of a massive and growing coronavirus shutdown, social media is more important than ever.
However, social media can become, what the World Health Organisation calls, an infodemic. What is an Infodemic? They define it as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
How are social media giants fighting the infodemic?
Facebook has tried to clamp down on online coronavirus rumours and have banned ads that promote the sale of medical face masks.
Google flooded people’s search results about the growing pandemic with government alerts and removed YouTube videos urging people not to get treated.
Twitter highlighted official reports about what to do when showing symptoms and demoted crazy conspiracy theories.
However, they are struggling to contain the growing amount of misinformation. A quick search on any of these platforms still brings up reams of incorrect information.
Why is it not working?
Because it is mostly users rather than companies spreading misinformation by sharing scare mongering posts and content with half truths, it is hard to remain on top of.
The companies are trying though, Google have banned some coronavirus-related apps from its smartphone store and blocked people looking to make money from the pandemic from buying ads on its digital network.
Facebook, too, has tweaked its algorithms to promote official accounts for its 2.4 billion users and removed false content about coronavirus in ways that, previously, the social networking giant said it never would.
In this age of social media, and with people remaining in their homes for the foreseeable future, people are relying more and more on social media for their information making it more important than ever to try to ensure the information they are receiving is correct.
What can we do to help?
- Avoid posting information online that you don’t 100% know to be true
- Avoid sharing information from others that you don’t 100% know to be true
- Find answers to your questions on the NHS website or the WHO
Although this can be scary, social media can also shed some light in these troubling times. Providing help and support and friendship when people need it most.
People globally are coming together to combat the virus. Pooling resources, food and more to help those in need. Social media is rife with memes, photos and videos of people trying to see a lighter side to it all (whilst still encouraging others to follow government advice).
In Italy, after the Prime Minister announced that a number of locations in the country would be on lockdown, celebrities, influencers and more started using #iorestoacasa (I Stay Home). The coronavirus social media campaign is targeting the younger generation, which many have said seems less inclined to follow the rules, especially now that all schools and universities are closed.
It is important for all of us to do our bit to stop the spread of Covid-19, support those who are less fortunate or vulnerable and unite together to get through this, one day at a time.