This article originally appeared on VICE India.
As of March 2, the deadly coronavirus has infected 89,778 people across the world, with 3,069 deaths and 45,497 people having recovered. However, while most people are treating the global health crisis with the utmost care and caution, there are also many rumours doing the rounds. From fake news that claims coronavirus can turn you into a zombie to bleach being the ultimate cure to avoiding Corona beer, there’s a lot of misinformation and fear-mongering out there. This plays out in a very dangerous manner on social media, especially TikTok, the short video-making platform with the fastest growing audience in the world.
Considering most people are turning to TikTok to provide comic relief amidst a quarantine, it also means many people are consuming content on the platform which is often exaggerated or outright fake, including people who have falsely pretended to be infected. To combat and contain the outbreak of both misinformation and the novel virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now decided to get on TikTok itself, and school the internet on how to protect themselves against the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
In their first video, Benedetta Allegranzi—technical lead of Infection Prevention and Control—discusses measures people can take to protect themselves, from covering their nose while sneezing to avoiding close contact with people showing symptoms like fever. In their second video, Dr April Baller from the WHO Health Emergencies Programme teaches you how to put on a mask and what to keep in mind before doing so.
The WHO—which had earlier called the spread of fake news on the outbreak an ‘infodemic’—has been steadily raising awareness about preventive measures across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tencent and Instagram with the use of visual aids like infographics. Now, they are taking it a step further and making responsible, verified instructional videos that are already racking up millions of views, thanks to people knowing that in this sea of information and misinformation, there’s at least one legit source on a platform they love. WHO also isn’t the only one that has reached out to young people instead of having them turn to it for the truth, with both Red Cross and UNICEF doing the same too.
But while it’s intriguing to see such organisations take to social media platforms filled with millennials and Gen Z, their videos are pretty straightforward and simple—boring even, one might say—and probably won’t appeal to the sensibilities of people who are either obsessed with memes or want some kind of humour incorporated into the information being given out.
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