This open letter has been sent today by Members of the European Parliament to the biggest online platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Netflix & Spotify.
Dear Social Media Representatives,
As the cases of coronavirus continue to climb, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the first time such a declaration has been made since the H1N1 crisis in 2009, which saw nearly a quarter of the world’s population infected.
Over 24,000 patients have died from the Covid-19 respiratory illness worldwide, and nearly 540,000 patients have tested positive overall.
Governments across the world have imposed restrictions on socialising as coronavirus became a terrifying global pandemic. Researchers agree that social distancing measures are the most effective way to flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the virus. Protective measures can slow the rate of COVID-19 infections, allowing the health care system to prepare for patients. It can mean the difference between life and death.
Young or old, the coronavirus is impacting our daily lives. While the common misperception has been that only the old and frail are in danger, testing data has shown that young people are also vulnerable. At the same time, symptoms can go undetected or be easily confused with the common cold of mild flu, which allows the virus to spread so easily.
Social media is being used more and more to tell people what is happening as it’s an easy way to get news instantly. What we would like to see is social media using its influence to encourage people of all ages to stay home, helping to slow down the spread of the virus. Anything that can raise awareness is extremely important, since many people are still not taking the situation seriously.
We acknowledge the fact that most social media platforms are already taking action, for example by highlighting key information based on reliable sources, encouraging so cial distancing with the use of curated stickers, launching chatbots, creating filters to show how to reduce the risk of infection, nurturing mental health and combating fake news.
However, with these initiatives not being globally available in differe nt languages, and with governments introducing unique sets of measures, one of the most pressing messages can get easily lost.
We are asking you, representatives of the most influential social media platforms, to empower social media users to be part of the solution. The pandemic can seem overwhelming, but in truth, every person can help to slow down the spread of COVID -19 by staying at home.
Seeing a random message, here and there, decided based on different algorithms is simply not enough anymore.
We trust that you can find a creative way to communicate one crucial message: STAY AT HOME! We need to do this by making sure that every single user, connecting from any device is reminded every time when launching your site, app, service.
We hereby call on you to act immediately and use social media positively during this worldwide crisis.
Katalin CSEH, Adriana MALDONADO LÓPEZ, Alessandra MORETTI, Alexis GEORGOULIS, Alviina ALAMETSÄ, Andżelika Anna MOŻDŻANOWSKA, Athanasios KONSTANTINOU, Biljana BORZAN, Bronis ROPÉ, Christophe GRUDLER, Chrysoula ZACHAROPOULOU, Damian BOESELAGER, Danuta Maria HÜBNER, Dino GIARRUSSO, Dorien ROOKMAKER, Elena LIZZI, Eleonora Evi, Elżbieta RAFALSKA, Eva MAYDELL, Fabio Massimo CASTALDO, Gilles BOYER, Hilde VAUTMANS, Ilana CICUREL, Irena JOVEVA, Ivan ŠTEFANEC, Ivars IJABS, Izaskun BILBAO BARANDICA, Jan-Christoph OETJEN, Karen MELCHIOR, Kira Marie PETER-HANSEN, Łukasz KOHUT, Marek BELKA, Margrete AUKEN, Maria da Graça CARVALHO, Marie-Pierre VEDRENNE, Martin BUSCHMANN, Michael BLOSS, Miroslav ČÍŽ, Monica SEMEDO, Moritz KÖRNER, Nathalie LOISEAU, Nicola DANTI, Nicolae ŞTEFĂNUȚĂ, Olivier CHASTEL, Ondřej KOVAŘÍK, Predrag Fred MATIĆ
Radka MAXOVÁ, Ramona STRUGARIU, Rasa JUKNEVIČIENĖ, Samira RAFAELA, Sandro GOZI, Sara CERDAS, Sophia in ‘t VELD, Sunčana GLAVAK
Sylvie BRUNET, Tonino PICULA, Victor NEGRESCU, Viola VON CRAMON-TAUBADEL, Vlad-Marius BOTOŞ
Members of the European Parliament