23rd April 2020: The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has transformed our lives in more ways than one. With a stringent lockdown in place, workplaces, malls, restaurants, theatres etc. have been shut and people are practically under a state of house arrest. The adherence to social distancing has resulted in inreased activities and participation on social media platforms, which have been helping us to come closer, at least virtually. We have no qualms in saying that social media apps too have come of age and emerged as an effective medium to aid the efforts put in place by mankind.
The players in the social media domain have made consistent efforts on their part to cater relevant information to millions. The development manifests how the power of extensive reach can be exercised in a responsible manner. Let’s take a look at some of world’s leading social media apps who have contributed towards bolstering the fight against the novel virus:
Social media giant Facebook has launched a dedicated ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information Centre’, which claims to serve “all the info” about the pandemic “in one place”. The Facebook Information Centre has updates from health organisations/authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, tips on keeping ourselves and people around us safe and resources that can come to our rescue in any eventuality. Apart from catering links and information from government offices/ministries and other authorities, Facebook is also helping people with ‘ways to deal with staying at home’. The platform is further helping the WHO raise funds for the purpose.
The leading short video platform, which has been adjudged the sixth most downloaded social media app globally by Sensor Tower, has taken several initiatives to raise awareness about the novel virus, starting with the launch of a dashboard powered by data from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organization (WHO). Apart from coming up with relevant hashtags, Likee also backed the Indian government’s call for social distancing by spreading the message on television channels during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s televised address announcing the lockdown extension. Also, the app collaborated with cricketer Yuvraj Singh-backed doorstep healthcare provider Healthians to hold a series of live interactive sessions wherein doctors and other healthcare professionals addressed queries and clarified doubts related to the virus.
The microblogging site is focusing on providing country-specific information on the pandemic to its users. In its bid to keep a check on fake news, Twitter is offering an option to directly surf through tweets from Indian authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Even before logging in, twitteratti can switch to ‘COVID-19 LIVE’ section. On the top is a featured video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation announcing the extension of national lockdown till May 3. Other Twitter handles that have been included in the list are authorities such as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), public broadcaster All India Radio News, all ministers of Union Cabinet and representatives of different state governments. Focus is also on promoting hashtags by authorities, including the WHO.
The photo/video sharing app has kept its focus on advocating social distancing and self-isolation. One of the most remarkable steps taken by the app is banning search for Covid-19 AR effects, as it manifests the seriousness in Instagram’s approach over the issue. Notably, Instagram had faced the ire of many in the beginning for the same. The app has also tweaked its algorithm to ensure that Covid-19 information from relevant sources appear on the top of its feed. These sources include the WHO and the health ministries of different countries. Besides, the app is encouraging its users to remain in their homes, and for the purpose they have rolled out stay home stickers and introduced a tool to browse Instagram together with friends over video chat.