|07 March, 2020

Twitter moves to protect conversations on COVID-19 in MENA region

Twitter said it was continuing to expand its dedicated search prompt feature to ensure that when people come to the service for information about COVID-19, they were met with credible and authoritative content

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, Poland, September 27, 2013.

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw, Poland, September 27, 2013.

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

RIYADH - Twitter is increasing its efforts to protect public conversations around COVID-19, launching new features in the MENA region to guide people to credible sources when searching for information about the deadly virus.

“Twitter is stepping up its internal and external efforts to build partnerships, protect the public conversation, help people find authoritative health information, raise relief funds and contribute pro bono advertising support to ensure people are getting the right message, from the right source,” Twitter MENA said in a statement to Arab News.

“With a critical mass of expert organizations, official government accounts, health professionals and epidemiologists on the service, Twitter’s goal is to elevate and amplify authoritative health information as far as possible.”

Twitter said it was continuing to expand its dedicated search prompt feature to ensure that when people come to the service for information about COVID-19, they were met with credible and authoritative content.

“Twitter has been consistently monitoring the conversation on the service to make sure keywords, including common misspellings, also generate the search prompt,” it added.

“In each country where Twitter has launched the initiative, it has partnered with the national public health agency or the World Health Organization (@WHO) directly. The proactive search prompt is in place with official local partnerships in approximately 50 countries around the world, with countries in the Middle East and North Africa going live on Friday.”

"It is good to know that Twitter has partnered with the WHO and the proactive search prompt is in place. This will help in the dissemination of credible information about coronavirus."

Tauseef Ahmad, Research analyst at King Saud University

The prompt in the MENA region is available in English and Arabic and includes Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Netizens in Riyadh commended the initiative.

Tauseef Ahmad, a research analyst at King Saud University, said: “It is good to know that Twitter has partnered with the WHO and the proactive search prompt is in place. This will help in the dissemination of credible information about coronavirus.”

He added that the social media network was intended to complement risk communication strategies including interventions to address concerns of high-risk population groups, on the basis of the international and national contexts.

These networks could be used individually or as a series, he said, to raise awareness on a regular basis.

Shaikh Abdullah, from the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital National Guard Health Affair in Riyadh, said: “We all talk about the benefits of using social media in personal and professional life, but have we ever stopped to consider how we could be doing our bit for public health? Getting involved is easy, millions have taken part in a campaign against wrong information around the spread of coronavirus.”

Abdullah said that disseminating facts and figures could go a long way and that Twitter’s example should be followed by others including Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.

Arab News: Copyright: Arab News © 2017 All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( www.Syndigate.info ).

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