Finland enlists social media influencers to fight COVID-19 misinformation

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Apr 03, 2020, 09.46 AM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

Social media platforms to be held responsible by UK for harmful content Photograph:( Reuters )

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Social influencers, or people with social media clout, have been enlisted by the Finnish government to help reach a bigger audience during the pandemic

As the world comes up with creative ways to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, countries like Finland are pooling in existing social capital to contain it.

Social influencers, or people with social media clout, have been enlisted by the Finnish government to help reach a bigger audience during the pandemic.

Also read: United States records highest one-day COVID-19 death toll with 1,169 fatalities

“We can reach a large part of the public in Finland through official communications and traditional media, but it’s clear the authorities’ messaging doesn’t always reach all population groups,” the government communications director, Päivi Anttikoski, told The Guardian.

With this, the country hopes to reach more people and further fight misinformation. So far, Finland is the only country in the world which has designated social media influencers as “critical operators”. Other critical operators include doctors, bus drivers, and supermarket workers. 

Finland’s 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin, in collaboration with a social media consultancy, alongside a network of media companies, intends to reach social media moguls and further accentuate the penetration of reliable information.

Also read: Coronavirus: Have rich countries disappointed the poor?

As per Politico, government announcements are edited to fit the social media format. After this, they’re sent to 1,500 influencers. 

“It’s about supporting social media influencers in sharing reliable information related to the coronavirus, and helping ensure that the right information is available on all channels at the right time,” the company, PING Helsinki said. “By working together, we can prevent the spread of false information”, they added.

However, this is not a coronavirus-related project, for these tools were envisioned in 2018. The aim is to develop tools that can improve the credibility of social media influencers, and to further use their platforms to share reliable information.

Also read: WHO spends more money on travel than on public health problems

Additionally, the company has come up with a do’s and don'ts that need to be followed during the pandemic. 

The basic tenets of these include - stop and think before sharing; review content critically; distinguish fact from opinion; check facts and never share false information.