As COVID-19 pandemic limits life outside our homes, social media has become a lifeline to many. It has become a significant outlet for all types of information, whether it’s a job post, business ad, breaking news, or personal opinion.
While most of us stay, work, and study in the comfort of our homes, social media has been widely used. Because of social distancing measures and the danger of coronavirus, almost everything has been made digital. Educational meetings, job interviews, business transactions, and daily conversations are now usually done online.
There is no doubt that this pandemic has brought significant changes to almost every area of human existence, including the way we use social media. These remarkable changes have become our new normal.
The Role of Social Media During This Pandemic
Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, social media has been more embraced as an agent for socialization. Connecting to people via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter doesn’t make us asocial anymore. This pandemic didn’t only change the way we use social media but also our perception of using it.
Social media apps have become the primary sources of information and effective platforms to discuss personal experiences, opinions, and concerns regarding health, illnesses, and treatment. However, many use these platforms for other reasons besides maintaining social lives, accessing information, and updating oneself during the crisis.
Through social media, many brands and businesses have remained connected to customers during the pandemic. Social media campaigns have been considered among the top digital PR tactics in this time of crisis.
Businesses can set up virtual storefronts through Facebook Shops, while daily Instagram Stories can help keep the business in people’s minds. It has also become possible to update and meet with employees through LinkedIn. It’s no wonder why social media are unstoppable, especially during this time.
Other strategies are now helping businesses retain their audience, such as maintaining the company’s presence through blogs and improving search engine optimization.
While companies use social media and other digital platforms to brand, sell, and market their business, we can get updated and avail of their products and services. As consumers, it’s more convenient for us to shop and buy goods without exposing ourselves to the danger of COVID-19.
Emotional and Practical Support
Social media have been instrumental in helping alleviate the situation. We’ve been using it to reach out to each other and make sense of what is happening in these tough times.
On various social networking sites, we can see how everyone deals creatively with the quarantine or lockdown. We can find support groups that organize entertainment and assistance for those who need help with grocery shopping or childcare.
With the advent of functionalities that allow us to do live chat and video sessions with multiple people, we can’t deny that almost everyone is turning to social media for emotional and practical support.
Events like this pandemic can be hard to process psychologically, but social media provides a different kind of collective grieving space for everyone. It somehow helps us overcome isolation and anxiety during this difficult time.
Administrators and educators are racing to provide online learning alternatives as schools were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are hosting classroom sessions on Google Classroom and Facebook Live. Some are also learning to use TikTok and Instagram to create resources for students.
But while it may sound engaging, there are certain limitations since many social media tools and contents were generated for general audiences and not for students. Thus, schools were also suggested to create or highlight policies for the use of social media for online learning.
Other Essential Changes To Expect
Like all other developments, social media comes with several downsides, and one is its role in spreading fake news. Despite the changes made by tech companies in recent months, there has been little progress in stemming the surge of misinformation during this pandemic.
Thus, we can expect more changes will become apparent in the future as new waves of misinformation strike various countries in various ways.
One essential development is the further limiting of WhatsApp forwarding. While it has been used for nonsense spreading before, the pandemic has become the perfect circumstance to forward misinformation.
Due to panic and anxiety caused by COVID-19, everyone is prone to share misleading information, such as bogus health cures. In response to such unfortunate scenarios, WhatsApp started making significant changes like placing stricter limits on the number of people who can receive a forwarded message.
Instagram has also made a notable change by including only COVID-19 related posts and stories in their recommendation section published by official health organizations. Social media companies also acted to restrict ads that take advantage of public health issues, such as this pandemic.
However, these changes are not enough to eliminate the spreading of fake news. The spiral of falsehoods across social media remains easy and uncontrolled. Shortly, we can expect more content filtering and restrictions.
The pandemic has changed how we use social media, from the usual chatting to more functional purposes. Fortunately, tech companies are also doing their part to adapt to these changes, and one is creating new tools to tackle fake news. But as a platform user, it is also vital that we crosscheck and fact-check every information we get through social media. We have a role to play by minimizing the spreading of rumors through our social media accounts.