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Social media influencers to raise awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Finland relies on social media influencers to deliver reliable information on COVID-19
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To address the spread of epidemics and viruses, governments have a set of basic tasks and measures to be taken, including establishing effective and rapid communication channels. With the absence of such channels and the lack of sufficient information during health crises, false information and rumors start circulating, leading to panic, fear, and shame in case someone was infected. Consequently, people will feel unprotected and may resort to harming themselves or others. With this in mind, the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many countries was the result of a lack of awareness that made it more difficult to contain the virus. As part of its efforts to address this challenge, Finland started relying on the most famous social media influencers to deliver accurate and reliable information and raise awareness of the virus. Finland even classified social media influencers as critical actors. The list of influencers includes rap dancers, authors, and bloggers. This initiative will reinforce the government's efforts in raising awareness and spreading reliable information, especially among younger demographic groups which are difficult to reach through traditional means.  {j}

كجزء من جهودها الرامية إلى مواجهة هذا التحدي، بدأت فنلندا بالاستعانة بأشهر المؤثرين على منصات التواصل الاجتماعي لإيصال معلومات دقيقة وموثوقة ونشر الوعي بكوفيد19.  حتى أن الحكومة الفنلندية منحتهم اسمًا وهو "أصحاب المهام الحرجة". وتشمل قائمة المؤثرين راقصي راب ومؤلفين وكٌتاب مدوّنات.  إن من شأن هذه المبادرة تعزيز جهود الحكومة الرامية إلى نشر الوعي والمعلومات الموثوقة لا سيّما وسط المجموعات الديمغرافية الأصغر سنًا التي يكون من الصعب الوصول إليها عبر الوسائل التقليدية.   

The influencers' quick mobilization was possible because they have been part of Finland’s emergency contingency plans for nearly two years. Social media influencers were added to the pool of essential actors a year and a half ago, after the media section of the national emergency supply organization realized traditional media would not be enough to reach the whole nation in a crisis. Finland's small population, under 5.5 million, helps spread the messages given that any influencer with 5,000 followers or more is capable of delivering the required information quickly and effectively. Another factor that greatly supported the initiative was the streamlined management methodology of the Finnish government, which does not require prolonged official procedures.

This initiative was supervised by a number of stakeholders, including 34-year-old Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, PING Helsinki, a social media consultancy, and Mediapool, a network of media companies. The Prime Minister ensures that safe and healthy procedures are in place, while PING Helsinki edits the government’s messages into a social media-friendly format, and sends it to its networks of some 1,500 influencers who perform this task free of charge.

Moreover, the Finnish government published a list of social media does and don’ts during the coronavirus crisis, as part of its efforts to tackle false information, including recommendations such as stop and think before sharing, review content critically, distinguish fact from opinion, check facts, and never share false information.

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