Want to share viral coronavirus content? Consider these expert tips first.
If you do a simple scroll through your social media feed, you're likely to see at least a few posts related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The last week, in particular, has brought a deluge of stories, charts, graphs, and explainers on how to "flatten the curve" to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the official term for the disease caused by the virus. Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, like the one issued to the Bay Area on Monday, are meant to dramatically reduce new infections so that the healthcare system can treat current patients without becoming dangerously overwhelmed.
People who take this urgent task seriously have been logging on to share related content with their friends, family, and followers, hoping to convince them to stay home. There are pleas from professionals like physicians and engineers, a widely shared video that uses lit matches to demonstrate the effect of social distancing, and memes that pack a lot of information into a bite-size post.
This is an emotional time; people feeling fear, anxiety, and grief are sharing information to educate others and gain some sense of control over what happens next. But, amidst those intense feelings, it's important to think twice about what you share.
Saurabh Mehta, an associate professor of global health, epidemiology, and nutrition at Cornell University, said that it's ideal to start with information from recognized institutions and agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Next, try to distinguish between official communications and anecdotes.
While the latter can be more powerful and persuasive because they're grounded in people's lived experiences, it's best to reflect on whether they match what experts say.
Finally, Mehta recommends trying to gauge the purpose of the content you'd like to share: "[A]sk yourself if the news/post aims to be informative or to alarm you and get your attention," he wrote in an email.
If you see social media posts sharing information you know to be inaccurate or untrue, Mehta said to avoid sharing, clicking, or retweeting it. "If it prompts a question from within your friend network or family, refer them to one of the trusted sources [like the CDC or WHO]," Mehta wrote.
Among the best coronavirus-related content Mehta's seen shared are the following:
Source: Washington Post
Why: "Easy-to-understand visual animations represent disease spread and the importance of isolation."
Source: The New York Times
Why: "This article describes in very simple words and with cartoons how the virus enters the body, infects human cells and spreads. It also includes helpful explanations on why washing your hands with soap is currently one of the best strategies for prevention."
Why: "Includes a Q&A section on what terms like quarantine, self-isolation, and social-isolation mean and why they are considered necessary measures to reduce the transmission of the corona virus."
Mehta also recommends checking the CDC section that describes key steps to protect yourself and others, and the CDC's YouTube channel, which airs briefings and videos with information relevant to COVID-19.
Taking a few extra steps before sharing coronavirus content online can help ensure you're posting accurate, actionable information with others.
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March 22, 2020 at 06:04PM