Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been described as both a blessing and a curse during this novel coronavirus disease pandemic ravaging our world. This is because they have had somewhat of mixed impacts on the spread of the virus and the efforts to control it. Most notably is the Impact Of Coronavirus On Technology In Nigeria
On one side, these platforms have served as dependable and reliable medium for dissemination of information regarding protection from the virus; and on the other side, social media platforms have also easily become willing tools in the hands of those with malicious intents who utilize them to spread panic, fake news, and conspiracy theories.
In a nutshell, the same social media platforms which the world has found useful in disseminating information on what the coronavirus is and how to curtail its spread have also been used — or rather misused, in spreading misinformation, rumours, fables, and conspiracy theories on what the pandemic isn’t.
Realtime reports on social media platforms about the spread of the new coronavirus in distant territories have meant governments at all levels have enough time to put measures in places to tackle the outbreak before it reaches home. The same up-to-date reports easily accessible to a large number of people on social media platforms have also made a monster of the virus, a situation that have spread panic and unhealthy lifestyles.
Below we take a look at the impacts social media platforms have had on the new coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging a significant part of our planet. Note that most of these impacts are not even positive.
1. ULTRA-FAST INFORMATION DISSEMINATION
As the new coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the entire world at an alarming speed, social media platforms have served as means of disseminating useful information about the disease. These information ranges from news about government policies on prevention, realtime update on areas of outbreak, and research and development of vaccines to battle the COVID-19.
Global bodies like the World Health Organization, central and local government authorities, and large corporate organization have all found social media platforms useful in keeping the populace updated regarding the spread and prevention of the new coronavirus disease. These pieces of information are disseminated at very fast rate, ensuring they reach their target audience at the right time.
If the world fails to control the spread of the novel coronavirus early enough, it is not because of lack of information.Total disregard for vital information from health professionals and bodies should rather take the blame.
2.UNCONTROLLED MISINFORMATION DISSEMINATION
Just as social media platforms have done tremendous works in spreading vital information regarding the spread and prevention of the new coronavirus, these platforms have also carried information that mitigate the efforts towards curtailing the spread of the deadly virus. Such information have come as conspiracy theories, faith-based logics, and outright fake news.
Purveyors of these kind of information probably have no malicious intent. They, like others, are out to suggest ways of putting an end to the pandemic, but their suggestions eventually come in collission with the research-backed procedures outlined by government health departments and bodies like the World Health Organization.
Misinformation spread by social media platforms regarding the COVID-19 pandemic have also included possible cure for the disease. When the US President, Donald Trump quoted a medical publication that discussed the possible effectiveness of Chloroquine for the treatment of the disease, many Nigerians who picked the news on social media platforms judged it a final prescription and forthwith rushed to self-medicate. The result showed few days later in a blurge of cases of Choloroquine poisoning as reported by the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
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3. SPREAD OF PANIC AND FEAR
Social media platforms have also spread panic and fears relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation that has greatly altered people’s perception of the disease and their reactions to it. News of high fatality rate of the disease in other countries, crash of healthcare systems, and embarrassing government response has led to severe panic, even when the conditions in those countries might not be the same with the conditions at home.
4. FERTILE GROUND FOR DISCRIMINATION AND DEHUMANIZATION
Discussions on social media platforms have also sought to discriminate against persons or groups reported to be connected in anyway to the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease.
Comments highlighting the purported Asian origin of the virus has led to attack on Asian communities around the world, with social media serving as the most fertile gound for the launch of this kind of attack.
5. PRESERVATION OF SOCIAL LIFE DURING ISOLATION OR LOCKDOWN
Despite all the bad things social media platforms have been doing during this new coronavirus pandemic, these platforms have however continued performing their traditional roles of breaking social boundaries and bringing the whole world closer together.
This has been very effective in a time of social distancing and total lockdown of cities and states being advocated or forcibly enforced by governments across the world to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have meant that those in isolation or under total lockdown get to share latest updates with family and friends while keeping in touch with them as well.
If the mission of the new coronavirus disease is to keep people away from each other, then it’s failing because social media platforms have ensured we still get to keep in touch even from a distance.