Because, just sometimes, memes really can prevent the spread of misinformation.
Updated on 24 March 2020: Every single day brings new coronavirus headlines – some of which are genuine, some of which are not quite so genuine. However, the NHS is working hard to prevent the spread of #fakenews and misinformation.
According to new reports, more than 6,650 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the UK, but the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher. The number of deaths is now at 335.
As such, Boris Johnson has declared a “national emergency” and called a lockdown. As of 24 March, people may only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs.
Shops selling non-essential goods have been told to shut and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together will be prohibited.
Naturally, the sense of panic is palpable: all you need do is look at the empty toilet roll shelves at your local supermarket to realise that. People are ignoring health advice given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – which basically boils down to, “wash your hands, dispose of tissues immediately, practice good basic hygiene” – and instead are sharing dubious home remedies they’ve found on social media.
And that’s why the NHS has teamed up with Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tackle the spread of coronavirus misinformation.
Social media sites are now directing UK users to the official NHS website if they search for coronavirus.
Sir Simon Stevens, the health service’s chief executive, told Sky News: “The NHS has already been battling coronavirus fake news, from working to take down false Twitter accounts to speaking out against misleading treatments being promoted by homeopaths online.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that the NHS strategy will prove crucial in enabling the public to “access reliable, accurate health information” as the outbreak grows.
It’s also worth noting, though, that many coronavirus memes are doing their part to stop #fakenews in its tracks.
With that in mind, here are the posts and tweets you should be sharing in the fight against misinformation.
On Covid-19 quarantine
On working from home
On your daily exercise quota
A note on hand sanitiser
Why does soap work so well against viruses?
So let’s wash those hands…
Or, for those who prefer music, try these 90s hand-washing songs on for size
Don’t forget to wipe down other surfaces
And please try to stop touching your face
Like, seriously. Please, please try to stop touching your face.
Think about how you’re greeting people
Do face masks work?
Memes are funny, but stop making jokes about celebrities getting coronavirus
And, on that note, stop crowing over the fact that “only the old and sick” are at risk
Is Trump spreading fake news like nobody’s business?
So please be careful who you take advice from
Can dogs spread the coronavirus?
Watch out for those hand-dryers
Are public gatherings a bad idea?
Should parliament shut down until this whole thing blows over?
Here’s a timely reminder about blood donations
Now, let’s talk about stockpiling
Think about what you look like when you’re buying 36 toilet rolls
In fact, just THINK before you panic-buy
Try not to spread hysteria or #fakenews
And, finally, a cold hard dose of reality
Originally published on 12 March.
Lead image design: Alessia Armenise