When the COVID-19 pandemic came, it shut the entire world down. The governments of different countries had to enforce a total lockdown in order to curb the spread of the virus. 

Despite the worldwide lockdown, social media platforms made communication easy. They even became a key piece in helping people combat the effect of the outbreak.

It’s been over two years since the virus outbreak. We believe that there’s a need to reflect on the influence social media had on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of the Platforms that played a critical role in alleviating the effects of the pandemic is Instagram. In this post, we evaluate how Instagram was able to achieve this and how it influenced the world during the unrest.

The Negative Influence of Social Media on COVID-19 Pandemic

A lot went down on social media in 2020 when the global pandemic was ravaging the world. While some people were feeding people's fears through their posts, others played blind to the outside world's reality. 

However, the effects of social media on the COVID-19 pandemic were both positive and negative. Because the media is such a big influence on people's minds, it influenced how people reacted to the whole pandemic situation.

Some users took whatever information they got off media platforms in their stride. Others choose to make mountains out of molehills.

For instance, Instagram has always been a place where people share their daily activities. So it’s understandable to find some users posting stories about their time at the saloon or uploading pictures of their new fashion accessories. 

However, Such posts caused worries for some. These people felt “posting happy stories about one’s life when people are dying” is being unsympathetic and oblivious to the pandemic situation. Because of this, some of these people even went as far as quitting social media. 

Whether that’s a good reason to quit Instagram or Facebook is a talk for another day. 

The social medias became a critical channel for the public to obtain pandemic information.

Perhaps the major negative impact of social media on the COVID-19 pandemic is that it served as a medium for amplifying misleading and inaccurate information. 

For example, some people posted about the virus online even though they had no expertise or personal experience with it. By doing so, they misled people with false information. This is called social media infodemic. 

Social media infodemic basically involves using social media to spread false information in a way that can be harmful. This type of information usually causes confusion and panic that can lead to people taking risks that affect their health.

This is why, in many regions of the world, the panic that accompanied coronavirus on social media traveled faster than the disease itself. 

People were using the medium to post myths, fake COVID-19 statistics, and pessimistic information. This led some people into anxiety and depression, and even suicide. 

However, the World Health Organization quickly stepped in to overturn the situation. They encourage the responsible use of social media through infodemic management

Coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers and statistics.

The Positive Influence Social Media Had on COVID-19 Pandemic 

Here are the positive influences social media (i.e., Instagram) had on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promoting Infodemic Management 

In the early phases of a worldwide pandemic, there is always the risk of false information spreading. Thus, preventative steps must be taken. This is why infodemic management exists.

Infodemic management is a technique for battling disinformation where social media users are informed rightly and taught healthy habits. This technique became a big thing when people started sharing it on Instagram. 

Instagram, in particular, influenced the practice by: 

  • Sensitizing people about the COVID-19 virus 
  • Allowing people to ask COVID-19 related questions
  • Promoting prevention methods and risk management 
  • Giving health experts a platform to share medical advice 
  • Creating a community that provides needed empowerment etc. 
Infodemic Management: promoting healthy behaviours in the time of COVID-19.

Quick Dissemination of Medical Information 

In the past, one of the issues people faced during a worldwide pandemic is how quickly they can disseminate medical knowledge across geographical boundaries. Thankfully, social spaces played a huge role in solving this problem during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social media tools (particularly Instagram) aided in the dissemination of critical information such as;

  • Reports on Ailment Diagnosis
  • COVID-19 Testing Procedures
  • Effective Treatment Strategies 
  • Follow-up COVID-19 Protocols 

People got a better understanding of the pandemic situation when they gained access to this medical information. And because most people liked video form content, they watched the latest news on these platforms and listened to as many enlightening programs as possible.

All thanks to Instagram for providing a platform where these statistics could be shared.

Using social media for rapid dissemination of information during the Covid-19 pandemic

Creating Safety Precaution Awareness 

Instagram had a huge influence in creating awareness about COVID-19 safety precautions. 

On Instagram, people were constantly preaching “Stay at Home” and “Use Your Mask”. 

More so, the platform provided a means of sharing the COVID-19 emergency response line. 

In addition, stigma and discrimination awareness was also promoted through social media. 

The control of infectious diseases like COVID-19 is a vital public health issue that needs attention. So, creating awareness about safety precautions that people should follow was a great move. And social media helped.

Keeping people safe and informed about coronavirus through social media.

Publicizing “Work from Home” Culture

If there’s one big influence social media had on the global pandemic, it’s that it encouraged people across the world to embrace the “work from home” culture. 

During the heat of things, movements were restricted across different regions. This was to help prevent the spread of the virus, so many people faced difficulty going to their place of work. 

Since work can’t stop, the “work from home” culture had to be adopted by many organizations.

For instance:

  • Software development teams adopted Zoom as a platform for holding meetings. 
  • Companies leveraged Slack to communicate with their employees and allocate tasks
  • Freelancers took advantage of freelancing sites like Upwork & Fiverr to bid for freelancing jobs 

The list goes on. But the question is – how did a social media platform like Instagram influence this?

Instagram publicized the concept of working from home. This had a positive influence on the COVID-19 pandemic as it encouraged people to perform their jobs from home and earn.

Is Remote Working Shaping the Future of Work?

Sharing Research Information and Scientific Discoveries  

In the heat of the global pandemic, effective health measures had to be put in place to reduce the risk of infection. It went beyond quarantining, social distancing, or wearing a face mask. 

There was a considerable need to find treatment and cure for coronavirus. This became a big challenge as the virus was spreading faster than the speed of light. 

So, while medical practitioners were taking care of infected patients, medical scientists devoted their time and resources to conduct scientific research that would point them to the cure. 

This led to several scientific discoveries. and thanks to social media, the world was not kept in the dark about these discoveries. People were kept abreast of the latest discoveries. And today, everyone knows about the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Seeking and sharing research information on social media

Entertaining and Connecting People to the World 

Because of the social distancing decree, there was massive limitation in human contact during the pandemic. As such, people had to adopt communicating with friends, colleagues, business associates, and loved ones online. 

And just like that social media became the primary platform for interaction. In fact, Instagram and other social media have become the most popular medium for entertainment. 

It is therefore not surprising that social media usage has increased over the last two years. These days:

  • Professionals are using social media for work purposes
  • Celebrities are sharing their lifestyle on the gram
  • World leaders are promoting political movements on socials

Even better, social media has prevented people from falling into depression. These platforms helped users stay engaged as they embrace the new reality. 

The coronavirus pandemic boosted social media usage around the world.

Conclusion

When it comes to the impact of social media on the COVID-19 epidemic, there are benefits and drawbacks. Despite the misinformation and crises that resulted, social media ended up providing good influence.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a worldwide health danger, yet social media had an impact on how individuals dealt with the problem. It aided people in gaining knowledge and awareness. 

This has strongly influenced people’s social behavior, which in turn has helped the government countermeasures towards the virus become more effective. Undoubtedly, social media will continue to get us through tough times in the future.

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Article published by Mahdi AZZOUZ

Mahdi Azzouz has a PhD degree in Management Sciences at Picardie Jules Verne University. He is also the Editor in Chief of Izeelogo, a logo design platform, and the co-founder of KSM-IT Consulting, a digital services company based in Amiens (France).

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