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How social media and influencers affect people's behavior during SARS-CoV-2?

The #stayathome campaign has been going viral on social media  recently. Artists, bloggers, influencers are urging their fans to adhere to safety guidelines, work remotely (to the extent possible), and limit outdoor activity and socializing with friends. Unfortunately, not all of the campaign’s participants are following the rules themselves.

Social media platforms are powerful tools enabling to reach thousands or even millions of people who often trust their idols more than experts. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are receiving a lot of information every day from doctors we don't know, from politicians we often don't trust, and from journalists who may seem unreliable. So, who can we trust? The choice is ours.

By following people on social media, we get an insight into their private lives and feel almost as if they are our friends, therefore our trust in them increases. It is good to follow e.g. doctors who use social media to educate and provide first-hand information. Instead of spreading panic, they warn, make recommendations and, above all, they set an example to follow.

If my idol, who is a doctor, stays at home –  I'll do it too. If my favorite actress encourages her followers to #stayathome and shares links to her online performances, radio shows and other sources of entertainment, I will also be more willing to spend time in isolation. We draw inspiration from parenting bloggers who provide ideas for how to be creative with children. Others show how difficult it is to work from home with children who can’t be expected to paint for 8 hours in silence. This makes us feel that we are not alone.

Social media provides us with many opportunities during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, many Polish celebrities are not setting a good example. Some of them encourage their followers not to travel and then post videos from their summer houses the following day. Not all their fans have the possibility of renting a secluded place during the epidemic and many may feel encouraged to visit their grandparents in the countryside. We must remember that such a trip is a real threat and it is not always a good idea to do what our idols are doing.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recently asked to appear on an episode with Blowek (a leading Polish Youtuber with over 4.5 million subscribers), which shows just how powerful a tool the Internet is. The interview with the Prime Minister was aimed at sharing with as many young people as possible the most important facts about the coronavirus, the suspension of lessons in schools and the recommendations of GIS and the Ministry of Health. The 12-minute video was a great success and immediately reached the first position of trending videos on YouTube. In 16 hours, it had over 600,000 views (at the time of publishing this article, 20.03.2020 12:00, the video has 1.9 million views).

The Internet is undoubtedly a source of knowledge that we trust. Politicians, specialists, and doctors whose videos are constantly appearing on the Internet are aware of this. If you are a well-known person, use your reach to educate about safety.

Even the WHO has created an account on TikTok! to reach young people who do not follow the news and should know about the threats resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The first video published by the WHO already has about 40 million views! In addition, there are many videos with the #coronavirus hashtag on this platform from all over the world, which shows how broad the impact of the pandemic is.

Let’s use social media responsibly in this difficult situation, verify information, be inspired by the creativity of others, ask children to teach us about the Internet, because they are more familiar with it and we can all benefit together.