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An update on social media and coronavirus

An update on social media and coronavirus

The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. This fortnightly update shares top tips to help you foster creative and challenge the status quo and summarises the news that matters.

An update on coronavirus and the spread of fake news

You may remember us reporting on how social media platforms were tackling fake news about coronavirus in one of our previous newsletters. Given that the situation is continuing to develop, and is now affecting the UK, here’s an update on how the situation is developing.

Interest in the virus has taken off on social media over the last two weeks. According to the news site Axios, interactions on coronavirus stories since the 20th February have increased seven-fold whilst Google searches have increased eight-fold.

New research from Northeastern University in the US has suggested that misinformation online is actually aiding the spread of the virus. This relates especially to the use of surgical masks, which doctors and healthcare professionals agree doesn’t provide adequate protection from the virus and having ordinary citizens use them is putting themselves at risk. In addition, having people stockpile masks is putting further strain on hospitals that need them for operations.

How are social media platforms handling the crisis?

Facebook has confirmed it is banning all ads which promise to cure, prevent or otherwise incite panic around the virus. It has also banned adverts and commercial listings related to face masks due to, amongst other reasons, price gouging.

Instagram has followed suit and is also included links to the WHO or local health authorities whenever someone taps on a related hashtag.

In the UK, BBC News has reported on a specialist unit which has been set up by ministers to counter disinformation about coronavirus, which will work with social media companies and communications experts to limit the spread of fake claims.

In more positive news, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has ‘unwhittingly’ (sorry) become a hero for his straight-talking about the coronavirus. A video of him answering simple questions in a ‘no nonsense’ manner about the virus quickly went viral across Facebook and Twitter. He was described as the ‘voice of calm and reason in the coronavirus hysteria’ by one user on Twitter, whilst another said they would ‘trust him with my life’.

What can we learn from the above? Be sceptical about what you read on social media unless it comes from a health authority like WHO or, of course, Professor Chris Whitty.

Top stories

LinkedIn is testing Stories

The professional networking giant is reportedly testing LinkedIn Stories internally, and while it is keeping its cards close to its chest, it has confirmed they will be ephemeral and full-screen, similar to other platforms. As the FT recently reported the rise of CEOs on Instagram, LinkedIn has an opportunity to capture this market in the drive for authenticity. Twitter has just acquired Chroma Labs – a specialist in Story content.

Twitter allows you to add new Tweets to old threads

Meanwhile, Twitter has in part responded to the edit functionality that users have long been requesting, by introducing a feature that will allow you to add new Tweets to an old Thread. As the platform most aligned to the news cycle, this feature will no doubt be highly used by users as stories and commentary evolve.
Read more 

The Economist updates its glass ceiling index

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, The Economist updated its Glass Ceiling Index. As usual, Nordic countries perform best overall, while South Korea and Japan remain firmly behind. Iceland is particularly good at helping women excel in the classroom (more than half earn a university degree) and guaranteeing access to corporate boards (women hold nearly half of the country’s board seats, thanks to a mandatory quota of 40% which came into effect in 2013).
Read more 

Facebook brings 3D photos to more users

After initially launching its 3D photos feature to a handful of phones with dual cameras back in 2018, the social media behemoth has now announced it has made the feature available to users who have a single camera phone. 3D photos work by analysing a 2D picture and slicing it into multiple layers that move separately when you tilt the phone or scroll. Pretty exciting!
Read more 

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