In the wake of the Coronavirus, information—verified or not—has been spreading like wildfire across social media. One such platform that’s taking the “infodemic” in stride is TikTok, where teens and health professionals alike have been posting content about the virus.
The World Health Organization launched its own TikTok account dedicated to spreading factual awareness as well as providing tips on staying healthy during the outbreak. The WHO is competing for engagement against the thousands of video memes made on the app often joking about the virus or posting unsubstantiated information. As such, the WHO has to work overtime to stick out in the crowd of teenagers spreading false information in hopes of getting views or “clout” according to a Gartner report on the topic. In addition to TikTok, the WHO’s other social media platforms have been busy fighting misinformation by directing users to government websites for Coronavirus-related content.
TikTok has been prioritizing the promotion of factual content, particularly as the rise of misinformation has fueled racism against Asian Americans—as evidenced from many videos popping up on the platform. TikTok began issuing notifications to users searching “Coronavirus” on the app; the notifications encourage users to look to trusted sources, like the WHO, for content and report any videos that are blatantly misleading.
While it might be impossible for social media platforms to fully eradicate the false spread of information on Coronavirus, enforcing policies and welcoming organizations like the WHO is a necessary effort in today’s evolving social media environment.