COVID19 Impact on Social Media

  • 4 months   ago
COVID19 Impact on Social Media
social media, digital marketing, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn
The Coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic” - an over-abundance of information, some accurate and some not so reliable but affecting social media networks like never before. - By George Julius Williams
 
Needless to state that the entire world has been caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic panic and post these uncertain times, practically every area of our lives will never be the same again. 
 
Obviously, even social media will never be the same given the transformational changes it has been undergoing, ever since the deadly Corona virus broke out.
 
The legendary Greek philosopher Aristotle said, ‘Man is by nature a social animal’ and now that humans are locked in and unable to be socially active physically, social media has seen a huge upward spike in most countries across the world. 
 
Adding to the rise in social media has been the easy accessibility to the world-wide-web by humans, literally on their fingertips and palms, across all platforms. The lockdown time that people now have at hand, prompt their fingers to key in words leisurely, over boards and pads.
 
With over 3 billion regular social media users prior to the pandemic and significant increases in daily screen time since it began, social media is fertile ground for targeting people with reliable information who would otherwise be spreading fake news or useless gossip.
 
Nielsen the reputed US based information, data and measurement firm which operates in over 100 countries, revealed a whopping surge in social media volume across the globe.
 
And inevitably, Covid-19 has been talk of the (social media) town.
 
As soon as the Coronavirus outbreak began, the World Health Organization teamed up with social platforms that have become the de facto emergency response networks in the face of crisis.
 
According to the popular tech info website Protocol, Aleksandra Kuzmanovic the social media manager of WHO knew tech companies would have an important role to play in stopping the spread of the virus and she had been in contact with social media platforms and others over the last year about combatting vaccine misinformation on various sites.
 
But the global spread of COVID-19, Kuzmanovic knew, would pose an even a greater and unprecedented challenge.
 
Over the past two months, the global organization has collaborated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat and WhatsApp, among other platforms, which have all become de facto emergency response social media networks that  people would naturally flock to in the face of pandemic. 
 
The challenge with this pandemic is the rapid spread of misinformation, unlike prior pandemics and WHO has recognized the major role of media in Corona virus stating: “The 2019 Covid-19 outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’—an over-abundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
 
On the other hand social media platforms have been quick to notice this groundbreaking change and have adapted to it with lighting speed.
 
For Facebook's family of apps - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - the push to address the crisis with a array of new tools had to be balanced against the need to limit the burden on technical infrastructure.
 

Facebook

 
Extracts from a facebook’s post stated,  “We continue to work diligently on restoring our review operations for brand safety through the COVID-19 situation. While monetization has been restored for the majority of our languages, we’re still operating with reduced capacity which has resulted in longer than normal delays. Thank you for your continuing patience.
 
We appreciate your patience as we work through COVID-19 challenges. While we expect the content review situation to be temporary, we understand the impact this may be having on your business. 
 
“As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, we are working with our partners to send home all global content reviewers until further notice. We’re doing this for the health and safety of our employees and extended workforce, while taking other steps to maintain the safety and security of our platform. 
 
We appreciate your patience during this time and recommend you check back often for updates. Learn more about how Facebook is keeping people safe and informed about COVID-19,” it added.
 

WhatsApp 

 
WhatsApp has introduced 'stricter' rules on forwarding messages and clamped down on the number of times a message can be simultaneously forwarded on to other users in a bid to tackle 'fake news and disinformation'. The Facebook-owned chat app has announced users will now only be able to pass on a frequently-forwarded message to one chat at a time. 
 
The app registers when a message has been sent in a forwarding chain of more than five chats. If a user receives a forwarded message that has passed this threshold, that user will then only be able to forward this message on to one chat at a time. 
 
The decision aims to slow the spread of the most sensationalist content shared on the platform, in particular misinformation about Corona virus. 
 
In a blogpost about the new limit, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: “We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.” 
 
“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organise public moments of support for frontline health workers,” it added
 

Instagram

 
According to Karina Newton, Instagram's head of policy, "Everything we do has a server cost. We're looking to see what we can put out that doesn't drain bandwidth." 
 
One of those features is Instagram's new Stay Home Story, which now appears at the top of the app. It aggregates posts from people who a user follows who have opted to include a Stay Home sticker in their Instagram Stories. Newton said that product, which launched last week, was built on top of technology Instagram uses for its I Voted sticker. 
 
Tweaking that product to become the Stay Home sticker turned out to be an easy technical lift with a massive impact. In a Live chat recently, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that so many people used the sticker in the first few hours, “it almost took down Instagram”.
 

Twitter

 
Twitter is helping people find reliable information, connect with others, and follow what’s happening in real time. It has tweeted the following tactics to help fight Covid-19.
  1. Helping people find reliable information
  2. Protecting the public conversation
  3. Partnering with organizations and public engagement
  4. Ensuring site reliability
  5. Keeping our employees and partners safe
  6. Sharing Twitter’s metrics
 

TikTok

 
The video-centric social media platform was lacking credible COVID-19 educational material so it partnered with WHO to roll out a landing page with facts and safety tips, informational videos, livestream Q&As with people in more than 70 countries, and a challenge aimed at making hand-washing fun. 
 
The #SafeHands challenge has inspired videos by various American celebrities.
 
Since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, TikTok has been fighting harder to address that issue by revising its community guidelines to more strictly denounce misleading content, introducing new flagging tools for users to report misinformation, and launching fact-checking efforts through a partnership with the Poynter Institute. 
 
In Chennai, India the Madras high court lifted the ban on TikTok, three weeks after it had asked the government to prohibit further downloads of the popular Chinese short-video application. On April 3, the bench had passed an order directing the government to prohibit downloading of the TikTok app in the country, calling it “dangerous for children.” 
 
Last week, Google and Apple removed TikTok from their app stores on the directions of the Indian government. Furthermore, after an advisory on video conferencing app Zoom was issued the government has trained its guns on a number of popular Chinese applications including TikTok, Helo, SHAREit and Kwai for any potential breach of data.
 

Zoom

 
Zoom has come under a lot of scrutiny over the last couple of weeks after the COVID-19 crisis led a surge of users to its video conferencing platform. And rightly so because it should be possible to conduct your meetings and chats without privacy violations, or the threat of “Zoom-bombing.”
 
Zoom, to be fair to the company, has been pretty responsive in communicating with journalists, but there hadn’t been any solid action taken–until now. 
 
Zoom has just announced a series of powerful security and privacy moves in response to growing criticism of its service. One of the most significant is the decision to pause all new features to focus on security during the COVID-19 surge in users–similar to decisions made by Microsoft and Google.
 
“Over the next 90 days, we are committed to dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively,” Zoom founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan said in a blog. “We are also committed to being transparent throughout this process. We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust.”
 

VPN

 
VPNs are a major piece of internet infrastructure holding together the work-from-home workforce right now and providing a way for people to get vital news in countries with censorship.
 
During the last two weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, VPN usage in the United States has gone up 124 percent. In that same period in Italy, it has gone up 160 percent.  
 
In Russia and China, VPN claims to have given citizens access to broader and more accurate information, making them a tool of public health as well as online hygiene.
 
An extract from Francis Dinah VPN’s CEO message reads,
 
“Today, I want to reach out to offer some encouragement. As we face this difficult time together, I want you to know OpenVPN is here to support you; our first priority is the health and well-being of our customers, partners, and community. We are sensitive to the fact that this new remote workspace might be stressful for many of you, and we want you to know we are here to help you make that transition smoothly.
 
We are confident we have the tools, resources, and infrastructure to provide that support, and we are honored to be the source you turn to as we all navigate through this dynamic situation.
 
Thank you for being a part of our community.”
 

LinkedIn 

 
People around the world are reaching out to one another in beautiful ways of heartwarming responses to those directly impacted by the coronavirus and talent professionals are no exception. 
 
LinkedIn is helping people and companies move forward in this crisis. As people all over face more job cuts and there is a surge in greater demand for certain skills, LinkedIN is proving vital in extending information to make a significant difference in a recruiter’s and job seeker’s search.  
 
In order for job seekers to stand out, digital first impressions (resumes and LinkedIn profiles) are key right now. Having things like a great LinkedIn photo, headline, and summary can be the difference between getting noticed or not. The recruiters below are helping people put their best foot forward.
 

Pinterest

 
The popular image site has posted six different pins on various Covid-19 related issues and thousands of viewers diligently following it.
 

Snapchat 

 
Snapchat has recently launched a new, dedicated COVID-19 business hub, which includes a range of resources, insights and links to help marketers manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and better connect with their audiences amid the crisis.  
 
The new mini-site showcases a heap of data points on the changes in Snapchat usage during the global lockdowns, highlighting relevant opportunities and best practices, based on examples.
 
Snapchat plans to expand on these tools with new data updates over time - but to provide some key pointers, Snap has published three industry-specific trend updates to highlight key areas of focus.
 
Finally, in what seem to be a real silver lining in the dark clouds that hover over social media during Corona virus crisis is that the tech giants Apple and Google are teaming up to fight Covid-19 with contact tracing on many of the world’s smartphones. The partnership will allow an estimated 3 billion people to opt in to location tracking through Bluetooth on their smartphones for the purposes of combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
In this spirit of collaboration, Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.
 
Next month, both Apple and Google will release APIs that allow contact tracing through third-party apps released by public health authorities. Users of both iOS and Android devices can download the official apps through their respective app stores.
 
And as social media users and platform owners grapple with the new and uncertain reality that has unexpectedly caught both entities off-guard and unprepared, let us hope and pray and we sail smoothly through this Corona crisis.
 
But a stark reality we all have to bear in mind is that post Covid-19, the face and usage of social media will have changed dramatically and drastically from what we know it now! 
 
 
Sources: https://www.protocol.com
https://www.forbes.com 
https://www.entrepreneur.com
https://www.businesstoday
and other Social Media Covid-19 related websites.
Image courtesy: https://unblast.com/free-social-media-vector-icons

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