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What is the social value of media research?

Introduction

In this contemporary world, the entire world can now be connected on one single platform of social media by just the modern technology of phones, laptops, etc. Social media has gotten to be a fundamentally important portion of our lives on which the youths of our generation and old age individuals are continuously overhauling approximately the happenings of their lives. On one side, social media in such crucial and critical times of the coronavirus pandemic is helping people to stay in touch with their beloved ones (Clark et al., 2017). On the other side, it is encouraging on their platforms such false stories and facts which are influencing the minds of the people in a pessimistic way forming a surrounding of chaos and fear. Presently, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, many countries have implemented lockdown and people are practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus. So, people have become more and more active on social media during the lockdown gathering information and facts. As a result of this is false facts regarding the virus and other controversies are emerging every day that's influencing and impacting gravely at the ideologies of the individuals. So the basic purpose of this research will be to investigate the implications of social media in media studies and additionally to apprehend how it is impacting the mindsets of young individuals of our society with faux information. It is vital to understand this as it will assist us to draw an analysis of how it is impacting human psychology and the thoughts to suppose and understand matters going around us. (Bekalu et al., 2019)

Literature Review

The coronavirus outbreak started on the Chinese Lunar year in December 2019 when the first confirmed case was reported in the city of Wuhan, China which is the native land of a population of 11 million people (Hu et al., 2020). The first reported casualty from the coronavirus was reported in China was of a 61-year-old man who had visited the live animal market from where the virus was supposedly infected the man. The death of the man was then broadcasted on Chinese media on 11th January 2020. From thereof, till the present date around the world, the coronavirus is causing utter chaos among the people affecting more than 8 million lives globally and causing the death of more than 400000 people (Worldometer, 2020). Malaysia has even recorded a number of cases of more than 8000 with more than 100 casualties due to the virus (Malay Mail, 2020). With the virus spreading at such a fast level, World Health Organisation on 30th January 2020 declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic and announced a global health emergency in the world (World Health Organisation, 2020).

Since the virus started gaining a fast pace in spreading to various parts of the world, there began a series of false and misinformation being spread by different social media platforms on their handles such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. This started impacting people’s minds and their thinking which caused a situation of an infodemic (Zhao et al., 2006). In a study conducted by Medford (2020) on the infodemic caused by the novel coronavirus on twitter since its outbreak people on Twitter did 126049 tweets, out of which 49.5% were expressed by the people as a feeling of fear and 30% people among them showed surprise. The result of this study was Twitter was flooded with negative feelings all over with the rising cases of the coronavirus which as a result it was able to leverage on the human emotions of the public and also spreading false information regarding health and well being.

An example of the result of the spread of false rumors and information on these social media platforms is the nationwide lockdown implemented in the United States of America due to Covid-19. With the rumor, it started a fire among people creating a situation of utter panic among them of purchasing stationeries and groceries. It leads to a complete disruption in the chain of supply of goods leading to food insecurities among individuals and widening the supply-demand gap in the USA.  Another instance of the bad influence of social media is that in Nigeria people started consuming overdoses of the Chloroquine drug after seeing the news of the efficiency of the drug on the patients of Covid-19. (Tasnim et al., 2020)

John Breuilly (2016) in his study by Benedict Anderson on imagined communities analyzed how the print media was impacting the minds of the people in the societies. It was influencing the minds in such a manner that the readers were conceiving and accepting everything written was true by the writers in the colonial times.  In the year, 2001 Anderson also in an essay said that the electronic media is creating a much wider impact than the print media ever could on the ideologies of the people. In addition to this, the moral panic theory also sheds light on how social media is taking an insight into the Covid-19 pandemic. Cohen (2011) in his expresses that the reactions of the common people were not concerning the current reality. In Cohen’s views and opinions the social media in the current scenario of the modern contemporary world is only creating hype of the issues present than depicting the ground-level story. As a result of this behavior of social media, it is creating problems and challenging the norms set by society. The moral panic theory further strengthens the unacceptable attitude of the media. Cohen (2011) in his moral panic theory explained five prominent stages of moral panic like:

  • A thing or person is identified as a threat to attitudes and values.

  • The threat is shown by the media.

  • This leads to a fast-rising concern among the public.

  • As a response to it, public authorities give their opinions.

  • The chaos and panic grow resulting in the changes in society.

Eric Goode and Nachman in the 1990s also developed a model on the social problems in the societies named as the ‘attributional model’ (Critcher, 2017). The emphasis laid down in this model was based on five main principal clusters- alcohol and drug consumption, street crimes, child abuse, media technologies, and immigration. Their model also somehow showed a link between media behavior and the changes in society.

Few governments also seem to be disoriented completely with the general public in giving them relevant information which is true in nature. As a result of which when people are being deprived of information they are resorting to social media for the daily dose of news information which are false in nature creating much more panic (Cowper, 2020). 

Due to the infodemic prevalent in social media in light of Covid-19, Corona beer one of the most popular beers had to face severe consequences in their sales and profit. This happened due to a controversy that corona beer if consumed by a person will get infected by the coronavirus just because it had a similar name. As a fact, the Mexican beer brand was already originated in the year 1925 even before the virus came into existence and had absolutely nothing to do with the novel coronavirus (The New York Times, 2020).

Methods

The momentum research work is directed based on qualitative and auxiliary secondary information sources. This is for the explanation that optional information research, accessible from different sources and past investigates, is respectably financially savvy and expends lesser chance to get the ideal research results. As to study the effects of social media creating a situation of infodemic all around the world required a broad and vast amount of data to be comprehended and understood to conduct fruitful research (Baltazar et al., 2020). The secondary data for the present study is collected from online articles, journals, newspapers which are available online. Qualitative data has been used in this research project as it would enable and help to research the topic as it would require understanding the viewpoints of different scholars and researchers on the topic. It would also enable me to make an opinion and giving me a specific direction of study in doing the research. Quantitative data in this research topic was not available at hand since the topic under study is a current burning topic so not much of data was available in this regard. 

Furthermore, secondary sources of data have been used in the methodology so that by in respect of Covid-19 doing primary research would be a difficult task as the people due to practicing social distancing would not much entertain in any kind of survey just to avoid any interaction with outsiders. So, secondary sources of data have been used in the research project so that the research could be conducted in a manner that did not give any problems to anybody and also getting the required information without any difficulties. Secondary data also enable to get hold of the data much quicker and it was easier for the researcher to comprehend it. Secondary data also ensured that it was available much in quantity to be analyzed and from that deductions and analysis of the facts and information could be done easily by the researcher in comparison to primary data. 

After the data is collected discourse analysis has been used in this research project to understand the implications of social media creating a change in the society by just providing misinformation. Also, discourse analysis is mostly used concerning data which is qualitative. Since the data collected is qualitative, discourse analysis with the data gathered can be comprehended easily in respect of the society. After applying the discourse analysis, the study conducted gives the results which were expected. Discourse analysis enabled the researcher to analyze the patterns and trends for this topic. The results were that social media were creating an environment of chaos and panic among the people in this situation of the coronavirus. #covid19, #coronavirus, etc trended on twitter, Instagram, Facebook all over the world.

In this research project, all the ethical considerations were taken into consideration. The data collected in this research by secondary sources were authentic and the authors of each source were given due credit in conducting this research project.

Findings/Discussion

The findings after conducting this research project are that social media is hampering the mindsets and opinions about people with fake news that is being made available online on social media. This study is significant as it is shedding light on how the media is leading to drastic effects where sometimes it is injuring people’s mental health by creating panic and anxiety, sometimes even causing physical pain to people by taking some severe steps due to the fake news on social media. As discussed above in the example of how some people in Nigeria took an overdose of Chloroquine causing severe illness. On the business front, it created negative impacts as well. For example, it was assumed that the virus originated from bats (Singhal, 2020). Now due to this, the consumption of poultry bird’s consumption decreased at a drastic level. It also leads to a decrease in the consumption of corona beer which had no connection with the virus. There are several more examples to back that the infodemic which is being caused due to the novel COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in huge losses by influencing the viewpoints of individuals in the society. This research also contributes to further studies as this Covid-19 outbreak is just one side of the story. The spreading of fake news will continue in respect of some other topic so it needs to stop right away so that it does not cause any harm to anyone in the near future.

Conclusion

Thus, with the above-detailed analysis and explanation, it is clear and evident how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc are creating a bad influence on people by spreading so many speculations, controversies, and fake information all around. The limitations which were there in conducting the study were lack of quantitative data to draw a much clearer picture and outlook. Since the available information was quite limited it leads to a narrower scope of the study. Also, secondary sources of data are not 100% credible in nature which is not the case of primary data which to precise to the research topic. The future research that could be conducted in this research topic is how in the coming year's fake news is still prevalent in social media concerning any other event occurring in the world and not just a pandemic of Covid-19.
 

References

Baltazar, J.Y.C., Perez, M.J.M., Vega, C.R., Zepeda, M.F.P. & Vega, E.S. (2020). Misinformation of covid-19 on the internet: Infodemiology study. JMIR Public Health Survillance. 6(2), doi: 10.2196/18444

Bekalu, M.A., Mccloud, R.F. & Viswanath, K. (2019). Association of social media use with social well-being, positive mental health, and self-rated health: Disentangling routine use from emotional connection to use. Health Education and Behaviour. Vol. 46, Issue 2, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1090198119863768

Breuilly, J. (2016). Benedict Anderson’s imagined communities: A symposium. Nations and Nationalism. DOI: 10.1111/nana.12236

Clark, J.L., Algoe, S.B. & Green, M.C. (2017). Social network sites and well being: The role of social connection. Current Directions in Psychological Science. Vol. 7, Issue 1, pp. 32-37.

Cohen, S. (2011). Folk Devils and Moral Panics. New York: Routledge Classics.

Cowper, A. Covid-19: are we getting the communications right? Br Med J. doi:10.1136/bmj.m919.

Critcher, C. (2017). Crime media and popular culture. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminilogy. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.155

Hu, Z., Yang, Z., Li, Q., Zhang, A. & Huang, Y. (2020). Infodemiological study on COVID-19 epidemic and COVID-19 infodemic.  National Natural Science Foundation of China. file:///C:/Users/HP-PC/Downloads/revisedmanuscript.pdf

Malay Mail. (2020). Health ministry: Only six Covid-19 cases today, one new cluster in Sarawak. Retrieved from: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/06/19/health-ministry-only-six-covid-19-cases-today-one-new-cluster-in-sarawak/1877039

Medford, R.J., Saleh, S.N., Sumarsono, A., Perl, T.M. & Lehmann, C.U. (2020). An "infodemic": Leveraging high-volume twitter data to understand public sentiment for the covid-19 outbreak. The Preprint Server of Health Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.03.20052936

Singhal, T. (2020). A review of coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19). The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 87, pp. 281–286.

Tasnim, S., Hossain, M.M. & Mazumdar, H. (2020). Impact of rumours or misinformation on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in social media. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. 53(3). DOI: 10.3961/jpmph.20.094

The New York Times. (2020). Covid-19: Corona beer brunt of virus attack. Retrieved from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/liquor/covid-19-corona-beers-brunt-of-virus-attack/articleshow/74365409.cms?from=mdr

World Health Organisation. (2020). WHO timeline- Covid-19. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/27-04-2020-who-timeline---covid-19

Worldometer. (2020). Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved from: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Zhao, X., Rafiq, A., Hummel, R., Fei, D.Y. & Merrell, R.C. (2006). Integration of information technology, wireless networks, and personal digital assistants for triage and casualty. Telemed J eHealth. doi:10.1089/tmj.2006.12.466

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