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Are we Benefiting or Hurting from the Use of Social Media for the Coronavirus

Are we Benefiting or Hurting from the Use of Social Media for the Coronavirus

Posted by Kyle Furman and Priya Korrapati on March 25, 2020

There is no doubt that in the year 2020, social media is a powerful tool. If there is one thing most people can agree on, is that one of the main reasons the coronavirus is so heavily talked about today, is because of the affect it has on social media. Social media can be used to spread awareness, but it can also be used to spread false information. Both stances for and against social media to help combat the spread of the coronavirus will be presented in this article, and the reader will be able to choose for themselves whether social media is helping or hurting more.

Benefits:

The benefits of any social media platform, where you can live-stream information to a direct audience, is obvious. People can display what their lives are like, in certain parts of the world, to help outsiders better understand what is happening internationally. A perfect example of this, are the hundreds of Italian residents recording what their day to day life is like, while the whole country is on lockdown. Another advantage of social media, it allows us to stay connected with loved ones, by send pictures, videos, posting daily updates etc. Probably the most important aspect of social media, as it pertains to this pandemic, is the ability to exchange important information/procedures to combat the virus. One Facebook group of doctors, with over 30,000 members called (PMG COVID 19), have the sole focus to find a cure for the coronavirus. Back in the day of the SARs outbreak in 2003, doctors typically had to go to medical journals, to receive updates on medicines and procedures to help protect their patients. Sometimes it would take days for news to reach a broader, less technologically advanced community. This quote from Dr. Hala Sabry, 41, who helped create one of the online coronavirus forums, sums up how doctors work best, “how medicine works, you learn from what other people, so that you know not to make the same mistake, so other people won’t die”.

Disadvantages of social media:

Just as social media can bring communities together, it can also divide them. Comment sections are blowing up from reports that more businesses and schools around the world are closing, in an effort to social distance ourselves. These online reports are becoming platforms for heated discussions and arguments. With these arguments, comes the worst effect social media can having during this pandemic, misinformation. With over 133,000 cases worldwide, spreading across to over 122 countries, people now more than ever need to be given correct information, that way they do not contract the disease, or are better equipped to help treat the illness once it has already reached the body. Lastly, social media can lead to widespread panic. More and more celebrities every day are coming out and telling their fans/followers that they too have contacted the disease. Viral pictures of sick patients/doctors are spreading an agenda, that may not be suitable for all audience members, and could cause perfectly healthy people to go into a full panic state. This seems to be the case at most grocery stores across the country. Chances are if you have walked into a shopping center yourself, or seen someone live-stream the experience, most people that are met with low supplies of essentials, empty shelves, and long lines.

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