The effect of Covid19 on social networks
1 February 2021
Covid19 has generated a global health crisis that has deeply affected the manner in which we perceive our world and day to day life. Reducing the pandemic's infection rate has necessitated social distancing, which in turn led to a social vacuum. This further enhanced social networks' position in media, news (fake news included), information distribution and media consumption in various areas.
Never in human history has it been possible to communicate so freely and quickly during a pandemic, and this is largely thanks to social networks. The rapid developments of this era are ideally compatible with the social networks' ability to offer instant mass communication. People spend more time on social networks, and so companies are turning their advertisement budget to these venues, considering how to delicately push the brand while remaining sensitive to current events.
Social networks are dealing with large amounts of fake news during the pandemic. This made them realize the great need for proactive responsibility. They implemented considerable changes to their policies to deal with harmful or misleading data. The climax of these efforts was blocking the popular Twitter account of outgoing president Donald Trump following the siege of the capitol by his supporters. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that this was done following a clear warning action will be taken. Trump's account's data was monitored and led to the conclusion that he was endangering the physical safety both in the realms of social media and outside of it.
According to a study conducted by Zignal Labs, information defined as fake news was reduced by 73% following Trump's block. The definition of fake news in social networks is usually associated with politics. However, in this day and age it is also referred to in medical aspects. Wild conspiracy theories regarding Covid19 and the medical field have been addressed by the WHO, academic institutions, and official medical organizations. They acknowledged social networks' power to distribute accurate medical information to the general public accordingly.
Facebook. For example, has launched an info center on the information in collaboration with the WHO, serving as a source of reliable data distribution. The news uploaded to the info center are research-based and correct common false rumors regarding Covid19.
Furthermore, an interesting phenomenon has manifested in social networks such as Facebook: new communities in which members share where one can receive a Coronavirus vaccination, thus preventing several doses to be discarded. Sharing the data via these groups shows the considerable power of social networks in which all data is concentrated in a single location allowing more people to make use of it for their and the public's good.
Covid19 has also led to a huge cutdown due to the harsh state of the economy. Social Networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Telegram, and others were used to open knowledge sharing groups which assist the unemployed to view updates on available jobs, tips on finding a job, free lectures, etc.
LinkedIn, for example, has opened free professional courses to provide people with practical tools in various career areas: product development, business development, design, etc. either for job searching or for mere enrichment. The knowledge distribution in this case is utilized for the professional advancement of those seeking it.
This era is characterized by great instability and has led to many questions to be asked by social network users. This could be framed as a virtual brainstorming session on value added to users at large (besides those asking the specific question). The wisdom of the crowds enables a better understanding of the issue and its possible solutions.
A lot of data is uploaded to social networks in video format. The most popular social network for this purpose is YouTube, which hosts many vlogs on various themes. A Vlog is a video blog though which one can provide value added through tutorials, personal stories, live broadcasts, etc. so that the knowledge distribution becomes more tangible and generates the intimacy this era requires direly.
Many businesses have shifted to online sales. Accordingly, social networks have proven to be most effective advertisement channels, whether via a designated business page or advertising in relevant communities.
Another social network that has seen a huge rise in users is TikTok. The video platform provides entertaining content to a young audience as its user base. However, Covid19 has led other age demographics use social networks, and so TikTok became a tool for sending focused messages for both users and advertisers.
This era has seen that besides popular social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, niche social networks such as Pinterest have gained popularity with designed products and art in various areas.
So, here are a few conclusions regarding the effect Covid19 has had on social media:
Social media has retained relevance: the effect of social media is considerable not only in the field of e-trade, but also has affected our sense of trust and responsibility and proactivity towards preventing fake news.
Interactivity: people search the social networks for social interaction, which has changed its face since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Knowledge sharing initiatives: the pandemic has motivated social networks and their users to initiate mass knowledge leveraging for positive purposes.
Live content, video, and virtual events as central components: since people cannot gather in large crowds, social platforms will become live streaming platforms for virtual events. Social networks are developing these tools to make them more mainstream.
New social networks are defying the field's veterans: TikTok is a rising force in this era. Users interact more with the creators, and therefore attract advertisers seeking a younger consumer audience.