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TikTok joins forces with WHO to promote coronavirus facts amid pandemic

The TikTok logo is seen on a screen over Times Square in New York City, U.S., March 6, 2020.
The TikTok logo is seen on a screen over Times Square in New York City, U.S., March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

TikTok, the app that’s quickly becoming Generation Z’s favourite social media platform, says it’s working to communicate informational content to users amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The video platform with an estimated 800 million-plus users says it’s working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to share informational content related to COVID-19

“We’re focused on supporting our users by providing access to accurate information and resources from public health officials in the app,” a spokesperson told Global News by email.

READ MORE: Live update — Coronavirus in Canada

This is particularly important for TikTok, whose audience is mostly under the age of 25

Users who view hashtags related to the pandemic are prompted to visit an in-app landing page with answers to common questions, safety tips, and mythbusters related to COVID-19. 

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The questions answered range from “what is a coronavirus?” to “can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?” all of them answered by the WHO. 

TikTok information pages about coronavirus
TikTok users are prompted to visit an in-app landing page with Q&As, safety tips, and mythbusters. TikTok

While communicating public health information can help limit the spread of coronavirus, TikTok is also facing a challenge that’s common for social media apps: fast-spreading fake news. 

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Multiple videos calling the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax have gained viral attention on the platform. A journalist from the Washington Post tweeted out one of these TikToks, which is no longer available on the platform. 

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To track down these posts, TikTok says they are monitoring and removing misleading hashtags from the app. 

They are also relying on the community by reminding users to report content that violates community guidelines when they browse coronavirus-related content. These reports are reviewed by TikTok employees based in the U.S.

In an apparent attempt to fight misinformation and disinformation with facts, TikTok is automatically labelling coronavirus-related videos and offering redirect links to local health resources, the WHO website, and other trusted resources.

MORE: Your coronavirus questions, answered: Medical experts respond to your COVID-19 concerns

As of March 17, the trending hashtag #safehands, launched by the WHO and TikTok, had garnered about 700 million views. Celebrities such as Nicole Scherzinger, and Mariah Carey have uploaded videos of themselves lip-syncing and washing their hands with the hashtag. 

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