On Thursday 5 March the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in South Africa. The hashtag #CoronaVirusSA quickly went, uh, viral, shooting up to the #1 trend countrywide.
As with all mass hysteria on social media, there’s plenty of misinformation flying around. How can we as social media users ensure that what we read, believe and publish on social media is truthful? For a start, with a high-volume trending topic like #CoronaVirusSA, it may be helpful to restrict your information sources to verified users only, which would eliminate a lot (but certainly not all) of the noise, rumour mills and fear-mongering.
One easy way to do this is to use Tweetdeck to set up filters. Go to www.tweetdeck.com, sign in with your Twitter account, then:
- Set up a column (the ‘+’ button), choose the ‘Search’ option, type in #CoronaVirusSA and hit Enter.
You’ll see the tweets flowing in thick and fast (assuming you’re reading this while the discussion is still mad-busy).
There are now two things you can do to restrict this gushing tide of Coronobabble to a steadier stream of hopefully more useful / reliable information: 1) See only tweets from verified users and/or 2) See only tweets with a certain level of engagement. To do this, hit the menu for the column you’ve just made (top right).
Under Tweet authors, change the setting to ‘By verified users’. Under Engagement, set the minimum levels of engagement as you see fit.
Now we’re only seeing tweets from verified users that have at least 10o re-tweets. Doing this will make it far easier for you to see tweets mentioning #CoronaVirusSA that (hopefully!) have a higher chance of being reliable and authoritative. Of course there will always be exceptions, so remain vigilant.
Protect yourself and others from #COVID29 Break the cycle of disease. Clean hands saves lives. Always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds #CoronavirusOutbreak #CoronaVirusSA pic.twitter.com/QfbDKGFDdc
— Department of Health (@HealthZA) March 5, 2020
[Statement] Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in South Africa. The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. https://t.co/k8ajDeVwjE #CoronaVirusSA pic.twitter.com/rfR2BM5yu4
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) March 5, 2020