At a time when social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have proved to be very useful platforms for people to source help for each other, to be fair, social media platforms themselves haven’t really done enough on their own. Twitter users are helping out friends and families of COVID patients who may desperately need information or leads or help with hospital admissions, oxygen supplies, medicines, contacts at hospitals, information about availability of beds, home care, ambulances and more. All this, and more, is priceless information at this time, particularly as someone panics to care for a loved one who has suddenly fallen ill. And this is all crowdsourced information, and while there are of course chances of information being outdated at times, the sheer effort and dedication has to be acknowledged. It is tremendously helpful, particularly when the healthcare system is stressed to the limits and treatment as well as medication may be in short supply. Yet, it is a glaring gap that no social media network is compiling such information on their own or a template for users to update. But Twitter seems to be taking some corrective action.
Twitter says that there are tools and resources that are available on the platform that users can use right now. The social media network acknowledges that it is what it calls a “people’s movement” and wants to add to that. Twitter uses the hashtag #Covid19IndiaHelp and points us to the advanced search option that will allow users to filter for fields such a specific hashtag, a time period in which the tweet was posted or even tweets from a particular account. For instance, you can search for words, phrases, any specific words, avoid words that you don’t want to search and even tweets mentioning certain accounts. Then there is the tweets that you can narrow down based on your current location, you can do that too. The way to do this is to type in a relevant hashtag in the search bar, tap on the toggle button on the top right of the interface, and turn on ‘Near you’ under ‘Location’. You’ll need to ensure that the location services in your phone are enabled and Twitter has access to the location data. For the Twitter timeline, you can choose to select between most recent tweets and most relevant tweets that show up every time you open the app or refresh the timeline. For this, you’ll need to tap on the sparkle button on the top right side of the Twitter home screen and choose the option you wish to select. What Twitter is basically doing is priming the features that already existed to better search for the information that is being shared by many Twitter users.