COVID-19 outbreak is one of the biggest pandemics the world has ever come across and something or the other is multiplying the effect of coronavirus on human mankind. Yes, it is the multiplying amount of information and coverage about the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on citizens and the economy of the world. A lot of this information is circulating in the form of Social Media.
During these tough times, Social Media is helping all of us to have the know-how of what’s happening around us. Even some of the experts have used social media platforms to propagate medical findings on and about COVID-19. Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit etc. are at the forefront and are the heart of this crisis.
All these social media platforms sometimes act as facilitators for the information and sometimes these platforms are the multipliers of COVID-19. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that the urgent measures are required to be taken to address the Coronavirus Infodemic.
Yes, infodemic is the term used for the misinformation that is being circulated through these social media channels laying a negative impact on the community with false and over exaggerated information. The infodemic compromises outbreak responses and increases public confusion about- who and what information sources to trust and what not.
Some Highlights To Check On:
- WHO head calls spread of false information on Coronavirus an ‘infodemic’.
- Misleading information is still widely circulating rapidly on social media.
- The WHO is working with Facebook, Twitter, Tencent, Pinterest and TikTok.
- The battle will be ON as long as the virus.
There is a question that keeps on haunting my mind. It is whether social media is a blessing or a curse during this pandemic? Well, both of these things have equal share and this is why social media platforms are both a blessing and a curse. Let us discuss ahead how it is a blessing or a curse during this panic situation.
Social Media As A Blessing During Coronavirus Pandemic
Not only social media but also entire technology is helping all of human mankind to stay connected with the latest updates and maintain efficiently the social distancing. It’s a great way to connect and communicate with all your loved ones using apps like Google Meet, Facebook Rooms, etc. Not only this, even it is a great way to get the latest updates on the pandemic and what’s happening around in your country as well as other nations.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Dr. Shmuel Shoham, associate professor at the School of Medicine, highlighted the importance of social media in communicating his work to the target audience. He says, ‘It is the way of getting the message across of what we are doing and getting people interested is multiplied through social media’.
Even more medical professionals like Alain Labrique (Director, Hopkins Global Health initiative and Associate Professor at Bloomberg School of Public Health) says, ‘Social Media enables scientific collaboration and accelerated treatment development’.
There are many such examples that can help us believe that social media is partly a blessing during COVID-19 pandemic. Still, there are a few Social Media Etiquettes that can help social media become entirely a blessing during these tough times. Here’s a checklist to follow during this pandemic while accessing and relying on social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTES
1. Don’t Abuse The Situation
The situation is so tragic and this is not the time to take things lightly. Therefore, we all have to be so cautious while sharing everything on our social media channels that includes something or other about coronavirus. Yes, for businesses like media houses and other such, it is a bit difficult to manage passing misinformation. Since business is not as usual, you can still post, create social ads and digital campaigns.
‘Ensure that you add an extra layer of empathy and compassion. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and should not at all be taken lightly as a platform for self-promotion’.
2. Pay Attention To Your Audience
Social media is all about socializing and this is where you have to be concerned about the community you are connected to. The online community is not like a one-way street. You need to consider how your audience is interacting on social media posts and how they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Important is to ensure determining what kind of content to post, how and especially when to post on social media channels.’
3. Reconsider Your Current Social Media Strategy
The social media strategy we were following before lockdown was going smooth. But, due to this pandemic everything has been changed. This is the time when there is a need to look at your social media strategy and pivoting to accommodate the new environment. You need to modify the old goals and set up new campaigns depending on the social media urgency and dependency during COVID-19.
‘It is the time to recreate strategy and to show your online community that you’re there to support and help them as and when possible.’
4. Stop The Spread Of Misinformation
Social media is a great platform to communicate information but during this pandemic it is important to circulate what is right and what’s not. If you come across an article and feel like it is legitimate and you want to share it because everyone else did. No, you need to stop right here. During these tough times, you need to ensure that you constantly keep checking if CDC, WHO. local government news sources to grab only the right information.
‘It is needed to assure that the information you’ve got is legitimate and from reliable sources.’
We all are living a time when we cannot step out of our houses, or connect with important ones physically. The only choice we are left with is relying and updating ourselves with the news and information from reliable social media channels. The power of social media is not hidden from us and it is indeed a powerful tool to connect and celebrate what is to be human.
Every coin has two sides, above we have elaborated the bright side of the coin. And now, it’s the time to see its darker side. Let’s check it out!
Social Media As A Curse During Pandemic
This side of the coin is often ignored, or i must say is often not taken seriously. But since we are talking about a very fragile issue, it is important to consider the darker side as well. Social media has a lot of power in itself, be it connecting to people at a distance or to get information all across the globe. Do you know what it takes social media platforms to be so powerful? It is the audience or the users who use social media consistently and a majority of them does rely on what is circulating there with no ifs and buts.
Around 49% of the total world’s population uses social media to grab information and news across the globe. In 2019, it was estimated that around 2.95 billion people worldwide were using social media and the numbers were projected to increase to almost 3.43 billion in 2023. Amidst coronavirus pandemic, this figure has risen up. It is because everyone is staying home, practicing social distancing and are using one or other social media channel either as a source of information or to connect with their loved ones staying far.
What Makes Social Media A Curse?
Social Media channels like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are one of the most accessed sources to collect any information regarding COVID-19. The pandemic is a serious issue and is now converting into infodemic wherein the outbreak responses are altered and are affecting human mankind with rapid increase in public confusion. All this creates a hassle, generates fear and panic due to unverified rumors all around. This is the time where government, public health authorities and digital corporations are required to not only promote digital literacy, but it is important for them to combat ways in which social media may be giving rise to irreversible post-truth age.
Misinformation During Outbreaks
It is one of the most pervasive things in the recent outbreak. From anywhere suddenly a suspicion gets raised and it quickly circulates within all the contacts a person has. And soon it goes viral. Rumors or misinformation both are similar terms and during this pandemic we have seen a lot of conspiracies. Amidst COVID-19, we have heard that the virus was developed as a means to wage a biological war against China. Such misleading information does nothing rather exaggerate and create panic.
The Information Vacuum
Social Media is a hub to past and present updates. In the early stages of the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, the information was shared through text messaging. Even the information about ‘atypical pneumonia’ circulated widely all around. And the fact was the government hadn’t shared that information with WHO that time.
Currently, COVID-19 outbreak has no control over the circulation of online content and the citizens across the globe are using social media channels to express veiled criticism of government mismanagement and accountability.
Yes, there is a big question on what to trust and what not. Therefore, it is recommended to check the facts and updates on the official website of the World Health Organization, Government and the Local Health Authorities. This will help you gain the best know-how of what is true and what needs your attention. Otherwise, you can ignore all that keeps filling your news feed. Make sure that you take care of our community and trust information from reliable sources only.
Is Social Media A Blessing or Curse: What’s Your Take?
Deciding on what social media is the toughest decision to make. It is partially a blessing and partially a curse. Do you know why? It is because if social media would not have been there, we won’t be able to get updates from all across the world and it would be quite difficult to connect with our loved ones. While on the other hand, it is a curse as people blindly rely on what comes on their feed and couldn’t stop themselves from sharing anything within their community.
Therefore, during this pandemic, and always consider it to be important to cross check the facts and figures of the information you are sharing on your social media channels. Also, ensure that you share only things that in any case won’t harm the community.
Be wise and be attentive while you read and share anything sensitive on social media during such hard times like this coronavirus pandemic. What do you think is social media? Let us know in the comments section below.