Going from an Epidemic to a Pandemic, the Coronavirus is sweeping news headlines and social media across the world. What started as an unknown illness at the beginning of 2020 has turned into a global pandemic with many companies, schools, and organizations taking action to prevent the spread of the disease. While there have been disease outbreaks such as the Avian flu, Swine flu, and others, no disease has been quite like the coronavirus. If you’ve been on social media within the last month you have most likely seen news updates, company updates, and memes all revolving around the virus. It is clear that social media has played a key role in the panic and news updates involving the virus.
How have companies addressed it?
Many companies have used social media as their biggest communication platform to address the virus. Companies such as Planet Fitness, Comfort Inn, and multiple restaurant chains are using social media to address the extra safety measures they are taking in order to prevent the spread of the virus and keep everything sanitary. Many companies have taken extra safety measures with their employees by having them work remotely from home, with some businesses even closing temporarily to prevent the spread of the virus. Companies now have to make the tough choice of losing profit and business by taking costly safety measures to stay safe or risk losing the trust of the public and employees by not taking proper safety measures. This can be clearly seen on social media as companies who are posting in regards to the virus are getting mixed reactions from those who believe the virus is being blown out of proportion, to those who don’t think some companies are taking safety seriously enough. It seems that there will be backlash regardless of which stance the company takes regarding the virus. Now, Public Relations workers are being challenged with the tough tasks of deciding how their company will handle the coronavirus.
How have people addressed it?
Social media has also been the biggest communication platform for personal reactions and opinions regarding the coronavirus. While many have used it to share news articles and updates regarding the virus, some have shared and created fake news which has helped play into the panic involving the virus, and exaggerates its symptoms. This has resulted in many people taking unnecessary actions such as stockpiling toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies creating a shortage across the country. Some people have also reacted very poorly to the virus regarding school and business closing announcements on social media with some students going as far as rioting. According to the New York Post on March 11th after classes were suspended at the University of Dayton in Ohio due to the coronavirus, many students began rioting at the campus with over “1,000 students gathered on Lowes Street starting around 11 p.m., throwing objects and bottles in the street and at police, and jumping on cars,” the school said in a statement. Other events such as concerts, music festivals and sports events have also been canceled with many fans angrily reacting on social media. On the bright side, not all social media involving the coronavirus has been negative. Some users have taken to social media in a more humorous approach regarding the virus posting funny memes as well as many celebrating the discounted prices of cruise lines and flights. Some users have also offered to help anyone with coronavirus and shared ways on how to prevent the coronavirus such as proper handwashing techniques, and ways to stay safe.
Misinformation and false posts
While social media can be a great source of information and news regarding the coronavirus, it can also be misinformative, overexaggerated or completely false. When reading articles make sure that it is accurate by using fact-checkers and your own judgment. A great free fact-checker that you can use is factcheck.org. This fact-checker can help you find false or partially false information to help you find reputable sources as well as avoid using inaccurate information and articles. Another important thing is to make sure of is that the article or news is from a trusted and credible news source before you share it yourself. A helpful tip is to look for news articles that come from sites that end in .edu or .gov as they are always credible sources from the government or universities. Facebook has also been tightening its grip on false news and information articles to stop the spread of panic and misinformation. Facebook now flags false articles and posts with their own fact-checkers but that doesn’t mean that it is able to detect all misinformation and fake news. Keep this in mind as you scroll through your newsfeed what measures businesses are taking to keep everyone safe and also be aware of the information that everyone else is posting in social media so you can make the best judgment calls regarding the virus.