Amid the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have had to handle another outbreak: misinformation, conspiratorial takes, and inauthentic claims. And they haven't done a stellar job at that so far. Thanks to a bug in its anti-spam filter, Facebook struck and temporarily removed legitimate news articles about COVID-19 while conspiracies about the novel virus' origin, nature, and transmission continue to spread on Twitter like fire.
Snapchat, however, seems to be dealing with things somewhat better. In an exclusive report from Axios, Snapchat announced that it will introduce a wellness and health initiative to help users manage their stress as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.
Tell us your worries — With this health initiative — which is expected to display as a separate search function in Snapchat's previously teased "Here For You" mental wellness function — worried users will have a chance to learn how to cope with anxiety around the virus by consulting sources from the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and the Ad Council and the National Health Service. Input has contacted the company for more information.
A disinfectant on misinformation — As of 2019, Snapchat boasts at least 210 million users. Most of them are from the millennial and Generation Z groups. This particular detail matters specifically in the context of the deadly COVID-19.
An inadvertent consequence of medical experts and public health officials noting that the respiratory disease carries devastating fatality rates for the elderly and immunocompromised is that many millennial and Gen-Z youths have downright downplayed COVID-19's severity and ignored desperate calls for physical distancing.
Snapchat's favorable design — It turns out that Snapchat's popular format — that of disappearing messages — works like an (unintended) antidote to misinformation. Unlike Facebook or Twitter which both have open feeds where unexamined and dubious content can, and does, go viral, Snapchat's portal of company-curated content tends to keep fake claims about COVID-19 in check.
That's not to say fake news about the virus never takes place on the platform. Just like any other network, there are users on Snapchat who may engage in spreading false information about the virus. But the likelihood of COVID-19 conspiracies and false claims reaching a mass audience on Snapchat is, compared to other social media networks, little. With this upcoming wellness function, the company shows practical commitment to raising awareness among its young users while also keeping a vigilant eye on misinformation.