If you spent your weekend getting lost on TikTok as per usual, you might have noticed that your typical entertainment was punctuated by some more serious content than you're used to seeing on the app. Amidst new dance challenges and leap day aspirations, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined TikTok to set the record straight on misinformation pertaining to coronavirus.
In its first video, which has currently amassed more than 20 million views, a calm and straightforward WHO representative explains what precautions to follow to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. In the caption, the WHO explains, "we are joining TikTok to provide you with timely public health advice!" In the video, the importance of frequently washing your hands with soap and water is stressed, along with suggestions for avoiding close contact with potentially sick people. It also includes an explanation of the urgency of disposing of tissues directly into garbage, staying at home if you are moderately sick, and going to the doctor if you're having severe respiratory symptoms with specific travel history.
If you spend a significant amount of time on the app, you'll run into one of the two coronavirus-themed posts from the WHO, as the organization has actually not just joined the app, but partnered with TikTok to help reach as many users as possible. This partnership comes in the wake of a dangerous spread of misinformation about coronavirus. It's a concerted effort to not only highlight the facts and weed out the myths, but also assert themselves as a reliable source for easy to digest information and updates.
In the WHO's second video (which has almost 30 million views), a text slide reads, "When and how should masks be worn in order to protect against the new coronavirus?" The next card to follow explains, "If you do not have respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, or runny nose," then in red bold font, "you do not need to wear a medical mask." The rest of the video goes on to explain that masks should only be used by health workers, caretakers and by people with those symptoms, before showing a demonstration for how to wear a mask if you fit one of this categories.
This video tries to set the record straight on mask usage, as it's been widely reported that people who are not in those categories are wearing masks, which is contributing to hysteria and fear mongering. On top of that, buying masks that are not needed takes inventory away from people who actually do need them, contributing to a problematic shortage. Above all, instead of buying masks, you should prioritize keeping your hands clean and staying away from sick people to protect yourself from getting coronavirus.
With over 160,000 followers in only a few days, it's clear that TikTok users are committed to staying informed and it's a good sign that the videos are getting even more plays. In the comments section, there's a lot of positive reinforcement from viewers, applauding the WHO for targeting the TikTok demographic and responsibly interrupting their feed of mindless entertainment with some perspective-shifting information.
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