The world as we know it has turned upside down. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is running rampant across the globe, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. It started in December 2019 in China and has grown into a worldwide problem, unlike anything any of us have ever seen before.
I can go on with details about the virus, but odds are, I would be repeating most of the information you have already seen. It’s time for a different conversation, one playing out across the digital landscape.
But first, a question. What impact has social media had, good or bad, on the coronavirus pandemic to date? Let’s find out.
Social Media and COVID-19: The Good!
Social media is one of the best ways to share news nowadays (it may be the only way for some people), especially if you are trying to alert people of something serious in a very, very quick manner. Whether it be COVID-19 news from individual states or news on a national scope, social media gets the message where it needs to go.
You’ve seen pretty much everything in terms of the coronavirus over the last few days to weeks. The number of people being affected by the illness in states, counties, and specific cities and towns come to mind. This news has made people aware of how the situation has been constantly deteriorating the sense of normalcy across the nation. Social media has also educated us about the symptoms of COVID-19–in turn, perhaps saving lives!
Safety tips are another ENORMOUS thing spreading through social media. One, in particular, is the term “social distancing.” According to John Hopkins Medicine, the act of social distancing involves “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” It is also suggested to stay at least six feet away from other people to lessen your chances of catching COVID-19.
Maybe the best thing that has happened across a variety of social media platforms is the number of professional athletes, celebrities, and influencers that have spoken up urging people to take everything they see about COVID-19 seriously and follow suit. Whether it’s Tom Hanks who suffered from the illness himself or other high-profile figures quarantining themselves, people are more inclined to listen when one of these figures speaks out or shares a message through social media.
Social Media and COVID-19: The Bad…
Unfortunately and in many instances, social media can do just as much bad as it can do good. To contrast the first point I made in the section above, social media is great for spreading information and news, but some of that can be misinformation or “fake news.” Misinformation, especially about COVID-19, can cause panic. People who see misinformation on social media may think what they are reading is actually true. If it’s something as important or serious as a worldwide pandemic, you should do a little research to see if what you are reading is actually factual. Otherwise, you may be inclined to share the misinformation and fuel the fear of something that isn’t necessarily true.
You don’t just have to worry about the spread of false information, but possibly having your posts marked as spam and taken down. Facebook recently had a “bug” that marked posts with reputable news articles as spam. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it was an error caused by the platform’s spam detection system.
This next thing is more of a tip than anything…
Whether it’s a business or a personal profile, you should refrain from posting anything that makes fun of, ridicules, or minimizes the situation. It could spell trouble for you, especially as a business. If you are going to post about COVID-19, be informative and make sure your followers know what’s happening with you, your business, or the situation overall.
Read more: Will Coronavirus Break the Internet?