The news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that anything we could say about it in this article would seem out of date not long after we publish it. However, news outlets, forums, and social networks operate around the clock, as healthcare workers, journalists, and everyday people share updates about the virus and how it’s affecting every part of our daily lives.
Where you choose to discuss the coronavirus may depend on what you’re looking to get out of the interaction. Whether you’re looking to gain new information, share your story with a news outlet, commiserate with like-minded people, or spread a message to a particular group, you’ll find something on this list of the top 10 places to discuss the coronavirus (COVID-19) to be the right fit for you. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but a good place to start.
Your best bet is to find subforums dedicated to disseminating reputable information, self-policing networks, and social networks known for up-to-the-minute coverage.
There is a subreddit dedicated to every interest group, so it’s no surprise that the topic of coronavirus brings up several communities, and the largest coronavirus subreddit boasts 1.2 million members. Reddit has seen a rise in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, not just on the coronavirus subreddit, but also on subreddits for Wall Street trading, sports, and education, to name a few. It appears that most of these surges are due to COVID-19.
However, misinformation is also spreading on Reddit, and the network has come under criticism for not including information from the CDC front and center, which sites like YouTube and Twitter have done. Equally troublesome, some users are coming to the subreddit to try and get diagnosed with coronavirus because of the test shortage. While Reddit can serve as an invaluable source of information from every corner of the globe, nothing serves as a substitute for doing your own research.
CoronaHub is an online job board and Slack Community exclusively dedicated to confronting the worldwide burden caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The job board is designed for both healthcare workers and volunteers to connect with medical providers, as well as connect people who have recently lost work due to the economic downturn with job openings in various fields.
The Slack community is designed for people to share news in their area, job openings, offers, memes, safety advice, and more.
3. Live Science Coronavirus & Epidemiology Subforum
Forums can easily devolve into echo chambers of fear, dread, or misinformation. However, if you find a board that is diligent about moderating content, and dedicated to maintaining and sharing accurate information, forums can serve as a great resource for sharing.
Live Science recently created a subforum for coronavirus and Epidemiology.Threads include debunking misinformation, how to protect yourself, symptoms, and more. Live Science is also locking threads that contain misinformation, or for topics that are not up for debate. Their approach keeps scientific conversation at the forefront. Conspiracy theories, or conversely, downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19, are swiftly responded to and shut down.
News often breaks on Twitter before it hits major news outlets, and news of the coronavirus is no different. While you’ll have to exercise caution on Twitter just like on other social media sites, searching the latest news under #coronavirus will turn up top and recent stories from around the globe, with new updates at every refresh.
Twitter has put a dedication to the facts front and center with these searches, directing anyone browsing the hashtag to visit the CDC’s site or view their Twitter feed for the most accurate facts about COVID-19 and available resources.
Group chats over video, voice, or text can help get everyone on the same page
5. Google Hangouts/Zoom
If you’re looking to share news with a specific group of people, maybe your stakeholders, members of a club, or attendees of a conference where plans have changed due to COVID-19, a great way to discuss the topic can be with a video call on a tool like Google Hangouts or Zoom. Let your clients know how you’re changing the way you work in the coming weeks, or how you can help them change the way they work, by inviting them to a webinar, and allowing them to ask questions in Q&A format on Zoom. Allow people to brainstorm with one another on Google Hangouts. Video conferencing can be a great substitution for conversations that you’d like to have face-to-face.
Discord doesn’t have to be just for gaming! The platform is great for connecting on niche topics away from the noise that can come with social networks. Maybe you want to start a Discord for people in your area to make sure everyone has the resources they need.
On the other hand, maybe you want to create one for friends that can serve as a refuge from the all-day-every-day talk about COVID-19. For example, you could start a group where people can discuss movies they watch at the same time while being quarantined. You have the option of connecting on Discord via chat channels, voice channels, and direct messages.
Some news outlets are encouraging healthcare workers and everyday people to share their stories on COVID-19
Even if what you have to share doesn’t fit within what these news outlets are looking for, we wanted to share a couple examples of news sources looking for submissions to provide better detail in their coverage.
7. The Guardian
The Guardian is looking for submissions from healthcare workers in the UK about their personal experiences with the coronavirus. Doctors, nurses, and other professionals in the healthcare industry are encouraged to submit stories. Specifically, they’re looking for perspective on equipment usage, training, and opinions on how the government is approaching COVID-19.
8. LA Times
The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, is looking for everyday people to share their stories about social distancing. A term that was probably foreign to most of us, we’re now all too familiar with social distancing and the sacrifices that come with it. The LA Times is looking to share both good and bad stories of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting daily life, especially in terms of isolation. While the publication is out of Los Angeles, the article doesn’t indicate that stories have to only come from L.A. or California.
These social networks can be great for connecting with friends and interest groups, but have been plagued with problems
WhatsApp recently hit 2 billion users, and is the most popular messaging app on the planet. However, if you’re using WhatsApp to gather and disseminate information, proceed with caution.
Misinformation about COVID-19 seems to be spreading like wildfire with few controls in place to stop it. Apparently, most of the rumors spreading on WhatsApp have to do with total lockdowns of various cities and countries.
Regardless of where these false stories are spread, this type of misinformation can be harmful and frightening, and lead to overall distrust of other, more reputable sources of news.
The best way to use a messaging tool like WhatsApp is to check in on friends and family, keep your loved ones up to date on how you’re doing, and create groups to share stories in geographical areas or friend groups. Keep conversations among people you trust, and cross-reference any stories you hear before you pass them along. This practice goes for every platform on this list and beyond.
Facebook has recently shifted its focus to groups. Whether you’re a mom, an entrepreneur, or a “mom”preneur, there’s definitely a group out there for you. Facebook groups are well-designed for users to share information about their experiences within a particular niche. For example, members of a chronic illness Facebook group might be talking about what they’re doing to stay safe while being immunocompromised. Groups of healthcare workers can share information from their respective hospitals to get a better idea of how to prepare if and when COVID-19 spreads.
However, Facebook’s dedication to cracking down on unreliable stories seems to have gone overboard recently, with many people reporting that their legitimate news stories about COVID-19, within and outside of Facebook groups, were getting deleted on the social network left and right. It appears that on March 17, Facebook’s spam filter had a bug that mistakenly marked accurate posts as spam.
Facebook has been criticized in the past as a platform that spreads misinformation, so perhaps this overcorrection is a response to that criticism. However, until the review process stabilizes, don’t count on all your posts staying intact on Facebook.
Where have you been discussing your experiences with coronavirus (COVID-19) on the internet? What has helped you feel more connected to others in this period of social distancing? Share your favorite resources in the comments!