We're into week three of lockdown in India, and all around the world people are practising social distancing and spending more time at home — and on the Internet — than ever. People are turning to social media to share, to vent, and also, to create really fun memes. At the same time, the platforms be they Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, are also taking steps to make sure that their users stay informed, stay safe, and stay home.
Misinformation during a crisis is a serious concern, and different companies are taking a number of measures to help — from Wikipedia, which has a special project about medical misinformation, to WhatsApp, which recently limited the ability to share frequently forwarded messages, while others like Snapchat and Instagram have launched new filters and new stickers in order to reduce the virality of fake news, much like staying at home is supposed to flatten the curve of the virus' transmission.
To combat the spread of fake news, Facebook recently introduced a Corona Helpdesk Chatbot to offer relevant COVID-19 information, and WhatsApp followed suit with a similar WHO chatbot for verified information around coronavirus. Facebook also activated a Community Help feature to allow people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to reach out for help from their community.
Twitter is working with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and various State Governments to upskill various departments on COVID response management. It has enabled state-wide COVID-response accounts, and has also published a Twitter list of key police accounts for latest and credible information on the 21-day lockdown. TikTok has plastered a COVID-19 button on the top right of its app, and it takes you to live stats of coronavirus cases and deaths, and information from credible sources regarding coronavirus. Snapchat launched the ‘Here For You' tool aimed at providing relief to users who may be feeling anxious over the coronavirus pandemic while staying isolated from their friends and family.
On the flip side, these same platforms have also become a place where you can take your mind off things, and find a little relaxation in the lighter side of life, with memes, funny songs, and skits. Celebrities, influencers, and even official police accounts have been using social media to spread information mixed with humour, and getting people to think about social distancing, washing hands, and staying at home.
For instance, the Punjab police made this creative TikTok video urging people to stay at home:
Hashtags like #gharbaithoindia and #coronavirus are trending on TikTok, and popular creators are making videos asking people to help with the house work and spend quality family time. There's a catchy rap song that has gone viral too. Some videos on TikTok are also just plain-jane hilarious, giving us the giggles in these times. The ones we particularly liked can be seen below:
Thanks to social media, we now live in a world of memes. The internet mafias out there, with their incredible humour and on point sarcasm, do not fail to disappoint – even during these dark times. What's probably the best is officials using memes to spread awareness. Here's Nagpur Police preaching social distancing on Twitter:
Here are memes around coronavirus that were just plain funny:
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What it feels like going out grocery shopping these days pic.twitter.com/xFvZuEFZMH— Namer Merli (@AmetDj) March 27, 2020
Several YouTube songs about the coronavirus have also cropped up, and while some are downright hilarious, some do strike a chord. Muskarayenga India – an upbeat song to lift the spirits of an anxious nation was also released recently. It features celebrities like Ayushmann Khurana, Kartik Aryan, Kriti Sanon, Bhumi Pednekar, and many more. It comes with a subtle message, “Phir muskarayega India, jo saath denga India.” The video can be viewed below:
Rapper Emiway Bantai, who has over 10 million subscribers on YouTube, also released a song titled ‘Khatam Karona', and this video spreads the message of staying at home.
Sandeep Ranade, creator of an iOS exclusive app that helps people train themselves in classical music also published a catchy song on his YouTube channel that went viral. It even managed to impress AR Rahman, who shared it on his Instagram page. “I recorded the song on the evening of March the 19 and then uploaded it to YouTube. I then shared it on Facebook and sent it to a few friends and family members on WhatsApp soon after,” Ranade told Gadgets 360. "I realized something's different, when, in just a few short minutes, my phone started ringing off the hook and people from all over the world were calling and messaging me, telling me it made their day and gave them strength, asking permission to share it to their social media, and even permission to use the song to dance to! People then started messaging me saying they just received my video from their friends on social media. That's when I realized that the video had truly gone viral and seemed to really be resonating with a lot of people. The inpouring of love and blessings was overwhelming. As an artist, I couldn't ask for a more rewarding outcome.”