Social media platforms’ assist in Coronavirus information dissemination

Coronavirus social media

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has evoked social media platforms to take up necessary steps to monitor and control the spread of related information. Here are all their initiatives.

Social media platforms play a vital role in communication during times of crisis such as the outbreak of Coronavirus. But the misuse of such services can worsen the situation. Here we comprehend the state of major social media platforms following the epidemic, and steps taken to respond to it.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg shared various initiatives undertaken by Facebook to respond to the global outbreak of Coronavirus.

The most significant step is the prompt that directs users to the World Health organization website or local health authorities. Instagram shows a similar prompt too if you search for hashtags such as #coronavirus or #covid19.

Coronavirus social media

Coronavirus social media

If a user is in a country where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission, they’ll also see it in their News Feed. False claims and conspiracy theories related to Coronavirus that are flagged by global health organizations would be removed. Ads trying to exploit the situation would also be blocked.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that they would also remove political ads on its service if they contain misinformation related to the virus.

Facebook will be providing free ads to WHO, and global organizations working with health experts to provide in-app support for the spread of vital information.

Facebook has already canceled its Annual Developer Conference F8 due to concerns over the spread of the virus and its employees have refrained from participating in the SXSW Conference this year, along with Twitter and LinkedIn.

A Facebook employee based out of Seattle tested positive for the virus; the office has since been shut, and the company is encouraging Seattle-based employees to work from home until March 31.

YouTube

YouTube has updated its guidelines to classify the Coronavirus outbreak as a sensitive event and all videos relating to this topic will be demonetized until further notice, Tom Leung – Director of Product Management – YouTube mentioned in a video of Creator Insider.

Joe Vargas, a YouTuber tweeted a screenshot wherein a human reviewer tagged one of his videos as unsuitable for ‘Limited Ads’, as he talked about coronavirus. The reason said, “Discussions of modern acts of terror, events resulting in the catastrophic loss of human life, or controversial social issues”.

Another creator mentioned indirect dialogues such as talking about events that got canceled due to the outbreak would also trigger demonetization.

Several users mention that while YouTube is demonetizing creator videos over Coronavirus, the same platform allows gambling ads on videos. On the other hand, some also find it baffling that YouTube employs human reviewers for monetization and videos from news channels being preferred over creators’.

An option to visit the WHO website is the first result shown when you search for Coronavirus, others that follow are videos from verified news channels.

Coronavirus social media

I clicked on several videos by news channels on YouTube web – an option to visit the WHO website is shown below each video and I didn’t come across any ads on the videos I clicked on, at least not any pre-roll ads.

When you search ‘coronavirus’ on YouTube the first suggestion in the dropdown menu is ‘coronavirus pranks‘. The platform is filled with several of such insensitive videos that have hundreds of thousands of views.

YouTube, like most social media platforms, is working a double-edged sword, if they limit these videos they are compromising on the spread of information, if they don’t they are propelling misinformation.

Probably only allowing videos from health organizations and verified health experts in collaboration with select creators and new guidelines for such videos might be a way out.

Twitter

Twitter recently adjusted its search prompt in specific countries to show authoritative health sources when terms related to Coronavirus are searched.

Now Twitter has partnered with the World Health Organization and expanded the prompt to nearly 50 countries including India. The platform says, “The proactive search prompt is in place with official local partnerships”.

The platform continues its zero-tolerance approach to prevent the spread of manipulated information or attempts to abuse the service, along with monitoring the Events feature to only disseminate credible information.

The company is also expanding its pro-bono initiative #AdsForGood to non-profit organizations working with health experts to disseminate credible public health information.

They further extend their partnerships with various global government and public health organizations, and officials to ensure they can troubleshoot account issues, get experts verified, and seek strategic counsel to mitigate harm.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn has recommended all it’s Bay Area employees to work from home until the end of March, a spokesperson mentioned to Business Insider.
  • The Verge reports that they are also making all job interviews virtual, and asking employees to postpone all non-essential business trips.

Additionally, several accounts on these platforms attempt to provide facts, to-do’s and more – it is recommended that users don’t rely on such information due to its credibility. Many on the platform are also abusing the hashtags related to the virus by populating it with irrelevant or insensitive content, which should be avoided at all costs.

During the Coronavirus epidemic, it is advisable for social media users to only look up vital information on the WHO website and their social media handles, and affected users to seek professional healthcare.


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