Fighting viruses with likes

The role of digital media within the context of the Coronavirus outbreak prevention


Not that dissimilar from the disease itself, the influence of Coronavirus on the digital landscape is almost inescapable. Companies are scrambling to establish new home-office workflow procedures and redefining the way in which professional interactions occur. Meanwhile, social media platforms have become a stage for memes, fake news, and misinformation. As the World Health Organization (WHO) stated on 2nd February, the general public must take action to fight the “infodemic” that is accompanying the virus.

Nonetheless, not every new stage of this infodemic is negative. New partnerships on social media and widespread access to online information have enabled digital tools to make progress on the prevention of the plague of misinformation.

How Data and Social Media are helping the fight against Coronavirus

While China and Iran attempted to keep the outbreak away from of social media, other governments took the opposite approach by allowing the public to examine in detail which areas were affected.

John Hopkins University set the trend for data visualization tools as the best medium through which to communicate the spread of the virus across the globe. In Hong Kong, government officials iterated on the idea by creating a platform where citizens can learn which buildings were quarantined or had been affected by new cases.

Dashboard with the current updates and locations of cases of Coronavirus in Hong Kong

On the other side of the world, major social media companies – Facebook, Twitter, TikTok – partnered with the WHO to display accurate information regarding the illness in an attempt to fight the barrage of fake news and prejudiced information shared across those platforms.

What differentiates this disease from other outbreaks in history is the increased connectivity that allows us to either despair or seek strength. Although it is not yet clear to which extent digital media will help to diffuse misconceptions and fabrications; we can see the bright side of a bleak outcome: more information and cooperation between brands that allow the internet to become an enabler rather than an obstacle.

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