As of last week, Instagram has added new information prompts and links to resources related to search queries by official authorities. This week, the social media giant has also announced that will expand its response tools to include the COVID-19 virus spreading across the world. The new tools will include a ban on searches related to the Coronavirus related AR masks.
Instagram has stated that “To help people get relevant and up-to-date resources, we will start showing more information from WHO and local health ministries at the top of Instagram’s feed in some countries.”
This is not the first time that Instagram has added prompts and relevant links to search queries, but this time, things are more serious; as information about the COVID-19 spreads in social media outlets spreads like wildfire, Instagram is taking more drastic measures to protects its users from misinformation.
Instagram is bringing the Coronavirus alerts to the main feed, and by doing so, it is making the alerts more prominent.
As of 2020, Instagram has over 1 billion active users per month, which is why it has decided to use its influence to reach a wide audience and protect users from falling into a fake news trap. The company is relying on statistics to ensure the success of the alerts; out of hundreds of billions of users, even if a small number of users use the alert tools, Instagram will be able to react in a timely fashion.
The social media site is also relying on influencers to spread the word, and not necessarily in the traditional sense; during these times, influencers are those who share what they learn with other users, thus helping to avoid unwarranted panic.
According to Instagram, it will also ban searches for AR effects, stating: “We will no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects on Instagram unless they were developed in partnership with a recognized health organization. This is part of our ongoing effort to better connect people with credible health information.”
The ban comes in the footsteps of Coronavirus filters that started popping up on Instagram, which is raising anxiety and also demonstrates the misinformation about the Coronavirus. Also, many users feel that the stickers are insensitive, especially given the rising sickness and death toll in the world.
In addition to the alert and the ban, Instagram has added a new sticker dedicated to health workers who work around the clock to help those who have infected the virus and make an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
Instagram will likely not be the only social media that will try to stop the spread of panic and disinformation about the Coronavirus. There are growing efforts to ensure that accurate information will reach the general public. During these times, it is important to stay up to date and not believe every supposed news source that claims to have the latest info on the COVID-19.
How to protect yourself from misinformation about the COVID-19?
It is natural to want to find the latest information about the Coronavirus, but it is more important to find accurate data about the virus; we live in times where we are bombarded by data from every direction, including social media sites, news sites, email newsletters, and other resources.
To protect yourself from false information, that could lead to problems, you should learn how to separate the truth from the lies. First, if you get your information from news sites, use only reputable sites, like CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and others. There are small news sites that spread misinformation about not only the COVID-19 but also about other topics.
You should avoid those sites and only go on websites that have connections with official authorities that provide them with the latest and most accurate health news. You should also avoid registering to newsletters that pop up on various websites. There are plenty of videos that claim to have the ‘truth’ about the Coronavirus, and they spread panic faster than the actual virus.
If you receive mail from unknown origin, you should run a reverse email search with GoLookUp or similar sites to find out who sent you the mail, before opening it. There is mail that contains malware and videos that will only harm you, so you should be cautious when opening your email.
You should also keep yourself updated on the latest developments of the Coronavirus on the official CDC site. With the global health crisis, you must know what to do and what not to do with your daily routine. There is no better source than the CDC that continuously posts news about the virus.
Instagram is putting effort to protect its users from false information that has a tendency to spread in times of crisis. With its new report tools and a ban on filters, the social media site is reaching its goal. To further protect yourself from misinformation, you should also be critical of the data you receive and make sure you get information only from official outlets.