On Tuesday, Instagram unveiled a paid partnership with @DudeWithSign, an account founded by Seth Phillips and Jerry Media founder Elliot Tebele that posts pictures of Phillips holding cardboard signs with parody protests. The account has 6.4 million followers.
The partnership, which involves the World Health Organization, aims to raise awareness of and direct followers to accurate information and updates on COVID-19, which has infected more than 4,000 people and killed 75 people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Facebook spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that the goal of the partnership is to “create informative memes.”
“Our main goal is to get information into people’s hands,” wrote Facebook’s spokesperson. “We worked with @Dudewithsign to create informative memes based on accurate information from the World Health Organization to reach a broader audience on Instagram, and share accurate information about COVID-19.”
Below, a look at what Facebook, YouTube and more social media platforms are doing to raise awareness of COVID-19.
Facebook and Instagram
Facebook is showing users who search for coronavirus information pop-ups at the top of search results that lead to information from health organizations such as WHO and the CDC. Instagram has also added a feature at the top of users’ feeds that allows them easy access to COVID-19 updates from WHO.
Facebook is cracking down on ads that use panic-inducing language in reference to the coronavirus or claim to cure or prevent people from contracting it, according to a company blog post. Facebook is using its network of fact-checkers to help limit the spread of misinformation, sending alerts to users who have shared or attempt to share misleading content.
Facebook is also collecting donations to its COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, according to a post by chairman and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. The company will match up to $10 million in donations to the fund.
YouTube has updated its homepage to include a feature that directs viewers to the WHO and CDC for accurate coronavirus updates. The platform has also added the CDC’s YouTube channel as a featured channel on its homepage.
YouTube is giving priority to authoritative sources in search and is working to remove videos that violate its policies, including ones that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or make false claims, according to a blog post from ceo Susan Wojcicki.
The platform was previously de-monetizing videos that included “more than a passing mention” of COVID-19, but has since reversed that part of its Sensitive Events Policy to allow monetization for videos that discuss the coronavirus “on a limited number of channels,” according to the post.
In a Google blog post, Google and Alphabet ceo Sundar Pichai wrote that YouTube had already taken down “thousands” of videos containing “dangerous or misleading” information about the virus.
Twitter is working to expand its search feature to provide information about COVID-19 from credible sources. In January, it launched the COVID-19 Search Prompt in 64 countries and 20 languages in partnership with the CDC, according to Twitter.
The platform is cracking down on inappropriate ads and is prohibiting the promotion of medical masks. It is also allowing government entities to promote ads as a means of sharing accurate public health information.
Hand-washing has become a trending topic on TikTok, with WHO starting the #SafeHands challenge.
TikTok has added a page to its app offering information on COVID-19 from WHO. “While this resource isn’t the reason users come to TikTok, we want to make sure it’s readily available among the creative content they’re enjoying,” reads a company blog post.
The blog post continues to list organizations who now have TikTok accounts, including WHO, The International Federation of Red Cross, American Red Cross and UNICEF. TikTok has also added an in-app notice that directs users to WHO’s web site when they search hashtags related to coronavirus.
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