Coronavirus: Social Media Platforms Turn Up The Heat!

CATEGORY: Communication | CSR

The biggest pandemic in modern history comes with perhaps the most unlikely of villains, boredom! Over the years, saving the world has involved storming beaches in a hail of bullets, ignoring nuclear missile warnings or just inventing a new machine that revolutionizes the planet. In the case of COVID-19 however, we can save the world by sitting at home. Yes, you read that right. Are you seated at home right now? Congratulations, you’re officially a superhero, go sew yourself a cape or something!

As easy as it sounds though, sitting at home isn’t child’s play considering humanity has honed the skill of doing the exact opposite of what would ensure its survival. In a bid to ensure compliance, social media platforms have devised different means to make your stay at home experience less stressful and ease information sharing during these torrid times.


Facebook Launches Coronavirus Information Centre

With the biggest community on social media, everyone had doubts that Mark Zuckerberg and his band of geeks at Facebook would be able to contain their biggest nemesis: FAKE NEWS. Notorious for dropping the ball at the direst of times, Facebook surprised everyone really. On March 18, 2020, Facebook launched its Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Centre to be featured at the top of news feeds so users can access real-time updates from national health authorities and global organisations.

Oh and about that fake news problem, Facebook also launched a US$1 million programme with the International Fact-Checking Network to provide flash grants worth up to $50,000 to organisations working on COVID-19 related misinformation. This move, lauded by experts around the world, has shown that maybe, just maybe, Facebook might be turning a new leaf.


Whatsapp Information Hub

The official news channel of Nigerian mothers in conjunction with the World Health Organization came up with an official channel to get daily information on COVID-19. As against resharing suspect messages from our parents, users can sign up to receive the WHO Health Alert, a daily report featuring the latest numbers of coronavirus cases. That’s not all, Whatsapp optimized its servers to accommodate more file-sharing as people replace social engagements with social media.


Instagram clamps down on coronavirus related searches
Surely I’m not the only one concerned that our third social media platform is still owned by the same dude? Anyways, the vain arm of Facebook, Instagram, not ready to be outdone by its parent company, has stepped up to the plate. “We will no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related [augmented reality] effects on Instagram unless they were developed in partnership with a recognised health organisation. This is part of our ongoing effort to better connect people with credible health information,” the company said in a public statement. This is in hand with recent clampdowns on hashtags and information pertaining to the virus. All of this, according to Instagram, is to make sure you only receive the right information from credible sources.


Microsoft coronavirus chatbot
The world’s largest software company, Microsoft, has also created a chatbot to aid users with symptoms decide whether it’s time to hit the ER or not. The bot, christened, Clara (For some reason), in partnership with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, asks a series of questions about age, location and symptoms before offering advice on whether they need urgent medical attention.


Just like Facebook, Twitter set its sights on misinformation. Tweets from regular users, tailored to imitate expert analysis are taken down and posts encouraging people to use fake or ineffective treatments, are flagged immediately.

In all, it seems the social media ecosystem has steadied itself in the most important time of the century and let’s be frank, it is indeed, laudable. With isolation curfews spreading all over the world, it’s important to keep people well informed and fight against disinformation. Although there’s still a lot to be done on Whatsapp (Thanks to all our parents), it’s a good thing to see these platforms step up and take charge without necessarily stomping on the ideals of free speech.


Tersoo Achineku

Social Media Manager