Original Research

Building trust while influencing online COVID-19 content in the social media world

June 1, 2020

Unlike historical pandemics, such as the 1918 H1N1 pandemic, COVID-19 is spreading across a highly connected world. Virtually all individuals are linked to each other through the mobile phones and global digital social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, to facilitate human interaction and information sharing about the virus. The authors discuss some ways in which social media has undermined effective responses to COVID-19 and consider how stakeholder groups could respond to these challenges—especially government leaders, social media companies and healthcare providers. These actors each have roles to play in preventing social media from being weaponized to sow distrust and further endanger public health, while also ensuring that social media can fulfill its essential civic function of facilitating good faith political expression and discourse.