The Contribution of Social Media during COVID-19


Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

Rachel Yu, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 impacting our daily lives, it is certainly not an exaggeration to claim that the year 2020, so far, has been quite an unpredictable adventure. Many schools and businesses have been shutting down ever since this pandemic struck in March, resulting in our everyday lifestyles being predominantly presented online. As this pandemic progressed, people around the world became more intolerant and began to refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. Social media applications such as Instagram and Twitter have been allowing influencers to present their opinions and spread awareness about this pandemic on their platforms. On top of that, these social media platforms are giving these influencers an attempt to change society and portray themselves as good role models, but are they really practicing what they preach?

Once COVID-19 started to transpire, millions of people were very dependent on the news media and other online sources to gain more knowledge about this virus. However, as time passed, a lot of people started obtaining their information from social media applications. People began seeing social media as a much easier and quicker way to gain more knowledge about the virus. Several organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and the World Health Organization, are actively posting safety updates on how to stay cautious and attentive during these unprecedented times. As well as that, multiple users around the world started to post more on their social media accounts to spread awareness and connect with other users about news on the pandemic.  

Throughout the past couple of years, Instagram has furnished plenty of different features, such as Reels and Stories, that grant users the ability to publicize and update people on their daily life events and/or opinions. Amidst this pandemic, there has been an increase in story posts that disseminate information about COVID-19 including : cases, mask wearing, and how-to’s for social distancing. Another specific feature that truly contributes to spreading awareness on the pandemic, is the “repost” option which allows users to redirect posts onto their stories and for others to gain access to them. “I think [social media] brought teens closer together, because a lot of relatable and educational content was posted, and it just brought Gen Z as a whole together even though we were all stuck in quarantine.” an anonymous sophomore described. Through these posts, it is evident that people have been gaining attention from their followers about their perspectives, that leave room for arguments and for people to make similar correspondences. 

Another application that has been carrying a lot of significance throughout this pandemic, was Twitter, which is a “microblogging” system that allows users to send and view short posts, known as “tweets”. These tweets usually consist of status updates of a user’s life, and allow users to incorporate links and resources that are relevant to what they’re posting about. When thinking about how Twitter is playing a role in this pandemic, there are multiple users who are raising awareness and spreading information on how to stay safe during these difficult times. These users are liking, commenting, and retweeting posts that they agree or disagree with, and these actions help gain a lot of attention from the media. As well as that, Twitter has been acknowledged for a certain trend among the app, which are hashtags. Furthermore, hashtags adhere to social media content about certain events or topics that are relevant to society today. They also allow users to discover these topics in an easier way. Some hashtags that are used for COVID-19 throughout Twitter include : #wearyourmasks, #coronavirus, #COVID19, and #stayhome. 

Celebrities throughout this pandemic, are also putting their best efforts to allocate proper behavior to their fans, by inspiring them to self-isolate and wear masks on their social media platforms. These influencers are playing a huge role in encouraging these safety precautions through social media since a lot of people, especially from the younger generation, tend to look up to them and follow similar moves. Since celebrities are human too, they are in no way excused from following the COVID-19 guidelines, however, some aren’t sticking to what they promote. Some influencers over social media are motivating their fans to follow the COVID-19 precautions out of their respect, while others seem to just be using their platform to gain attention and generate a good distinction. A lot of celebrities seem to constantly be reminding their supporters to wear their masks and maintain social distancing rules, even when they act in opposite ways. Sophomore, Lacey Shin, explained, “I think that influencers who do not go along with their posts on social media are followers and only posting because other famous “influencers” are doing so. They feel that because they are “popular”, the crowd will listen to them about social distancing, meanwhile, they themselves are not.” Celebrities are starting to believe that just because they are more prevalent than others, they are allowed to exclude themselves from following any of the precautions provided. Are these celebrities really good role models after all?

Social media has played a significant role in this pandemic so far, by allowing users to post their beliefs on certain topics of COVID-19 and educate others on how to remain safe. While some people are being literal about these posts, others are sort of just publicizing their “opinions” to maintain an upstanding reputation.