How Social Apps Are Fighting Against Coronavirus

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In the midst of this virus outbreak, social media is more important to us now than ever. If it wasn’t before, its becoming an essential dovetail between our friends, family and colleagues. As we edge closer and closer to complete lockdown, social media will also step up as the primary source for entertainment, communication, and important information.

However, this pandemic is also what we like to call an infodemic: where an excessive amount of accurate and inaccurate information is surfaced, making a solution unclear and confounding. We have been taking note of all social apps being proactive and attempting to fight this. 

 Here’s what we found.

 1. Instagram

Instagram posts are usually carefully curated but Coronavirus is making Instagram more intimate, authentic & real.

Instagram is embracing its potential as a top news source amongst young people, leveraging its worldwide presence to issue coronavirus prevention tips and information through a call-to-action at the top of its home-screen feed.

Instagram have also prevented users from searching for Coronavirus related AR effects unless they were made in partnership with legitimate health organisations.

Many users have taken to Instagram to share their experiences going to the shops, as well as their thoughts whilst in isolation. It has been used as a way to share timely and local information with their peers, as well as uplifting quotes during this hard time. 

2. Snapchat

Snapchat hasn’t experienced the same misinformation problems that other platforms have. Instead, we have seen its hundreds of millions of daily users post frequently regarding precautionary measures, as well as commentary on sports and music events being postponed. There has also been an influx of content from The World Health Organisation and various news sources that has helped users funnel the myths from the facts.

The World Health Organsation has also partnered with Snapchat on a new AR filter which includes essential information on how people can reduce their risk of infection amid the outbreak.

It’s also added some new stickers to help promote health measures during the outbreak.

3. TikTok

TikTok has given rise to a large variety of responses: using comedy to deal with the crisis on the one hand, and debunking myths and misinformation on the other. With hashtags such as #coronaviruschallenge, #quarantinesucks and #itscoronatime trending, people are filming themselves in quarantine, making comedy skits at supermarkets with empty isles, and participating in viral corona dance challenges with their friends.

With that said, big organisations such as The World Health Organisation, Unicef & British Red Cross have all created TikTok accounts and jumped on popular hashtags to educate users on the platform. We have also seen prompts ‘Learn the facts about Covid-19’ on all Coronavirus related videos, leading to an information page written by the WHO. 

Many users have expressed using TikTok as a form of escapism; a safe space where users can make light of a heavy situation and not feel so alone in isolation. 

4. Facebook

Facebook is an app that has received a large amount of controversy on this issue. Just yesterday we saw Facebook blocking users from posting legitimate articles on the pandemic, but it has since been revealed as a ‘bug’ in its spam filters. 

Alex Stamos, a former Facebook security exec, speculated that Facebooks decision to send home their content moderators and relying more on its AI systems is cause for this: “It looks like an anti-spam rule at FB is going haywire…Facebook sent home content moderators yesterday, who generally can’t [work from home] due to privacy commitments the company has made. We might be seeing the start of the machine learning going nuts with less human oversight.”

IVP of Integrity, Guy Rosen denied it was this shift to blame on Twitter: “We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.”

In an internal note on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg has also announced that they’ll be giving $1,000 bonuses to its employees to support them during this time.

The firm is also offering $100m to help small businesses cope with the economic impact of the outbreak.

5. Twitter

Twitter has pledged to ‘protect the public conversation around Covid-19’ and expressed their “zero-tolerance approach to platform manipulation and any other attempts to abuse our service at this critical juncture.” To action this, they have removed numerous tweets that have made illegitimate claims about the virus outbreak. 

Users have adopted a more sarcastic take on the outbreak with hashtags such as #QuaratineAndChill and #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan trending on the platform. Some users have used it to list some of their top Netflix suggestions whilst others use it as a platform to ridicule panic buying and self-isolation. 

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