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Can Social Media Outrage Help Contain Coronavirus?

With the rampant spread of the deadly coronavirus, the Chinese have taken to social media to express displeasure and seek help. Can social media help an international crisis?

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Crippling fear grips the world with the onset of coronavirus spreading to parts of Europe, Asia, and the US. The virus was first discovered in Hubei province in the city of Wuhan, China on December 30th, 2019 and has been in lockdown ever since. Close to 4000 cases of infected persons have been recorded in China with the virus moving to other countries in January 2020.

Cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the US, Thailand, Australia, France, South Korea, Japan and very recently, India. Rajasthan, Delhi, Kerala, Bhubaneshwar, and Mumbai are some of the states that have identified cases of coronavirus. 

What is a coronavirus? 

The WHO classifies it as a family of viruses that can have an impact as small as flu to serious respiratory problems such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).It is a virus that comes from animals and usually infects your throat, nose, and sinus. The outbreak in china’s city mostly recorded cases of people being near or working at a seafood wholesale market. 

What is China doing? 

China has taken quarantine measures which include transport restriction and postponing of official events. They have even delayed the celebration of Lunar New Year where Chinese travel to meet friends and relatives. Not only this, the financial markets of China are expected to remain shut until Sunday. 

The country grapples to contain coronavirus and simultaneously an outrage breaks out of social media by people from China and across the world express their discontent. 

What is social media saying?

Social media is a boundless platform that invites all kinds of sentiments and voices to express themselves. China’s popular messaging app WeChat and Weibo (China’s twitter equivalent) have been flooding with discussions regarding the outrage of the coronavirus. 

There have been posts that are addressing how the virus is also spreading to the medical staff making its impact more severe. Other posts are talking about how the spirit of ‘Lunar New Year’ is dampened, heartbreaking posts of families worried about their children and, mostly how everyone is scared of what happens next. 

Since it has become an international crisis, the outrage has already begun on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The 3 companies are frantically working on their networks to regulate posts and reduce the spread of misinformation. 

At a time like this, the impact of social media can be both beneficial and disastrous. 

Read: Social Media Platforms Merging! Boon Or Bane?

How does social media influence an international crisis? 

Social media has brought the world closer and has made authorities available to the public. This means that people are aware of everything going on in the world and are able to directly address their questions to concerned authorities. This has two effects- 

  1. Authorities are accountable for their actions and are called out for it.
  2. False claims are made to defame authorities 

Another thing that comes easy with social media is communication. Anything happening in your vicinity or any information that have you have hold on can be put up on social media. With more than half the world online, there are high chances of getting attention. What is the outcome? 

  1. Medical or any other emergency can get help immediately
  2. Spread of fake news to incite trouble

Read: Fake News Detected By AI: IIIT Hyderabad’s ‘Fake-O-Meter’ In Focus

Social media also records sentiments and real feelings of a person in the midst of a crisis which gives the world a picture of the gravity of the situation. This can help the authorities and institutions ascertain public sentiment to make decisions. 

To answer the question- can social media outrage help contain coronavirus? It can if used for the right reasons such as providing information and getting help. Awareness is everything you need to be prepared for a fight. 

Prevent the spread of misinformation

As citizens and users of social media, individuals must possess a sense of responsibility towards sharing information. It is expected that a person must fact check the information before sharing it. What qualifies as real news? Anything that is put up on a credible news site. You can also check out portals such as HoaxSlayer that debunk fake news or videos. 

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1 Comment
  1. Lucas says

    very interesting article. thank you

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