Many brands are taking to social media to keep in contact with consumers and raise awareness for the world’s current state of affairs. Like many who are desperate to fight the constant spread of coronavirus misinformation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has joined the social media app TikTok to raise awareness to the demographic which are typically most likely to spread it. The hope is that more people can be reached through this channel and be re-assured as the virus spreads.
The World Health Organisation launched a TikTok account as part of its efforts to cut through coronavirus misinformation online. A specialised public health agency of the United Nations, WHO is one of the leading organisations working to contain the spread of the virus.
In WHO’s first video, Benedetta Allegranzi, technical lead of infection prevention and control, describes measures people can take to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus and directs them to the organisation’s website for additional information.
“We are joining TikTok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice,” WHO wrote in the description of its first video.
In the viral video, Allegranzi recommended people frequently clean hands using an alcohol-based product or soap and water, use an elbow or tissue to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, avoid individuals with symptoms of the virus, and share travel information with medical professionals if a person is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
@whoWe are joining @tiktok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice! Our first post: How to protect yourself from ##coronavirus ?♬ original sound – who
During the video, WHO told viewers, “If you do not have respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, or runny nose, you do not need to wear a medical mask. Masks should only be used by health workers, caretakers, and by people with those symptoms.”
Toward the end of the video, April Baller, who works with the WHO Health Emergency Program also took the time to provide instructions on how to put on a face mask efficiently. She also advised people viewing to wash their hands regularly, and before applying a mask itself.
Since many around the world have been advised to self-quarantine, TikTok has been flooded with a number of new users and an onslaught of popular and trendy memes about the new coronavirus pandemic over the past few weeks, with some users of the site even using the virus as an excuse to pretend to be infected. In one case, a teenager recently made a video suggesting that their friend was the first Canadian confirmed to have caught the virus.
The launch of the TikTok account is part of WHO’s campaign to get accurate information concerning the coronavirus to people online, where they’re most likely to potentially come across it, even without searching themselves. According to the MIT Technology Review, WHO and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have spent the last couple of weeks of the outbreak fighting misinformation regarding the virus on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tencent, and TikTok, just to name a few.
Information from WHO already tops Google results for search queries about the novel coronavirus. Additionally, Facebook users scrolling through their news feeds are also met with messages directing them to visit government websites for information on the virus. Twitter users see a message that says “Know the facts” and directs them to visit the CDC’s website for “the best information on the novel coronavirus” when they search for content related to the virus. TikTok also links users who search for virus-related content to the WHO website.
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