DRINKING ALCOHOL PROTECTS AGAINST COVID-19

DRINKING ALCOHOL PROTECTS AGAINST COVID-19

Sadly, it’s doesn’t. But the headline caught your eye didn’t it? 

You might have heard the term ‘Fake news’ being thrown around lately, or perhaps from Donald Trump, as it is one of his favourite phrases! Fake news is essentially misinformation that is spread online as real news. I suppose you could say its big news right now as there has been a significant amount of it during this pandemic, however with so much media circulating about COVID-19, how do we know what is true anymore?

According to a survey by Statista (2020), almost 64% of UK respondents came across a false story at least once a day in the space of a week during September. In my opinion, this is absolutely crazy, how is fabricated news allowed to be shared across platforms millions of us use? 

A new study by MIT in 2018 found that false news spreads more rapidly on the social platform Twitter than real news does and not because of any algorithms or technology, it’s all down to users retweeting it and sending it onto their pals. No doubt this has increased over the past two years!  

Spreading inaccurate information online is more dangerous than we think, throughout the pandemic I personally have stumbled across many fake news articles and seen plenty of users sharing it across networks like Facebook. In concerning and tough times like this, reading a headline such as “Coronavirus is a Hoax” (I WISH!!) can have a massive impact on someone’s mental health if they believe this, especially when they are being kept from seeing loved ones and being told to stay inside. 

We have seen the impact fake news has had on political campaigns in America back in 2016, where it has been used and abused to target vulnerable people and influence their political opinions, which is why I feel more needs to be done about how to combat it – If this comes as a surprise to you, I would advise watching The Great Hack on Netflix!

So, what are social media platforms doing about it?

We use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter every day, so surely these big tech companies have a part to play in stopping the spread of false news? Well, they have previously turned a blind eye to the matter however, recently many have been taking action.

Facebook has vowed that they will continue to use fact checkers to review misinformation and then remove the fake news or perhaps sometimes, conspiracy theories. For example, at the start of the year when coronavirus began to spread, Facebook focused on removing false stories surrounding cures and treatment for the virus including “Avoid spicy food to avoid infection”– which was obviously not true. They also blocked certain hashtags on their platform Instagram which were linked to the topic. 

YouTube also took it upon themselves to remove any videos that include misleading information about vaccines and that contradict local health authorities like the NHS or World Health Organisation (WHO). 

And like I mentioned before, fake news has become the centre of previous election campaigns, and recently Twitter banned accounts which had been tweeting spam in relation to Donald Trump, which is against Twitters rules. 

What can WE do?

  1. Do a quick search on Google or Twitter. By doing this you can see if it’s came from a trusted source or if anyone else has questioned it. For any stories regarding COVID-19, only listen to health organisations like the NHS or WHO.
  2. If you’re unsure if a social media post is fake news or not, don’t like, comment or share it – this can increase your chances of seeing more fake news as social media platforms like to show us more of what we interact with. The more engagement a post like this receives, the more likely it’s seen as something relevant. 
  3. If it does in fact turn out to be fake news, report it! You can do this on any social media site, the World Health Organisation has published a great guide on their website which can help you do this.
  4. And lastly, just think before you share! Sometimes it can be hard to resist a click bait headline but try get used to reading trusted sources instead of what Sandra might have shared to her 200 followers (No offence to any Sandra’s out there) …

To sum it up, I think it’s scary to see how fast false information spreads these days and, in my opinion, it’s ruining people’s opinions on real journalism as they jump to believe the false article they just read on Facebook rather than the actual facts. There is definitely more work to be done here by social media platforms to stop the spread of fake news but for now, we can only look out for the warning signs!

Shauna McKillop is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She spent her placement year at The Tomorrow Lab in Belfast, where she continues to work as a junior digital marketing executive. Shauna can be found on: LinkedIn and Twitter.

Business Owner at 18 : Promotion through Social Media

OM1At the tender age of 20 years old, one might ask what words of wisdom could a fresh-faced student have for a world of entrepreneurs? Well I can tell you that after turning 20 in June and going through a roller coaster of a year and seven months in business, that social media is your best friend!

After turning 18 in June 2016, I headed off to University, confident my life was on the right track. Prior to opening my business, I grew up making myself money. By selling my old clothes on eBay, cleaning anything I could around our house for extra money. I always enjoyed the idea of being my own boss. After completing 4 long years of GCSE & A-Level Art, I realised my passion was Make-Up. (queue many readers switching off).

I opened my own freelance makeup business in March 2017 at the rare age of 18 with possibly £200 to my name, a chair and a Facebook page. I had absolutely no clients and no clue how to get them. Now, over a year and a half on I have a big client base, my own premises and thankfully looking forward to the next few years, as well as being able to blog my thoughts on social media.

So firstly – 1. use Facebook as a promotional tool

I began posting up pictures of my work on my Facebook page to achieve higher engagement. In the first few months of business I done a lot of free work to get myself noticed in my area, to build a client base. I worked at a loss and I made so many mistakes. Facebook for me was a great client builder. I was able to post client photos, allow them to post reviews of my services and it formed a base for my business.

  1. Instagram is your best friend!

In 1 year, I gained over 6,500 followers on my Instagram page from posting content. Now I’m the first to say its not all about follows, likes etc. however in my business, I thrive from engagement. If you’re opening a business which focuses on visual aspects Instagram is where you need to be! Using Instagram as a marketing tool is one of the best and easiest ways to strengthen your business and interact freely with your audience. By using Hashtags to raise awareness & advertise your company.

For me many of my clients are young girls under between the ages of 13 and 20, so as you can imagine Instagram is the perfect place for me to grow my brand. Choosing a platform that connects with your target audience is the key to success.

  1. Post good quality pictures

Nobody wants to see blurry photos that look as if they’ve been taken on a toaster. Everyone on social media is upping their game which means you should too! Take a look at what your competition is posting as a way of bench marking. Studies show that users on Instagram decide whether to follow you or not based on the 3 most recent posts on your profile – so every post counts.

Try to take your pictures against plain (ish) backgrounds & make sure not to upload things nobody wants to see, try to link your uploads back to your business.

  1. Get Tagging

By tagging bigger brands, influencers etc. this encourages them to re-post your work which in turn gets your page more engagement, which is what counts. If your business creates products, posting pictures and tagging relevant Instagram accounts will help your account reach a larger audience.

  1. People want results!

For me as a makeup artist, I gain clients through posting pictures of my makeup on myself and others. As well as posting before and after pictures which shows your skills. This doesn’t just apply to businesses like me, consumers want to know that your product works / creates results before they’ll purchase. Sharing testimonials, reviews and pictures are a great way to show off your products/services on social media.

  1. Choose your social media according to your audience

For me, I want to target all ages. I post on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat, each for different reasons. I find the older generation use Facebook more than Instagram and this is my method for advertising to an older clientele. Younger people follow me on Instagram and snapchat, therefore I market myself differently due to the difference in followers. With snapchat I feel I can be more open as its not as public as the likes of Instagram & Facebook, however I find snapchat to be the most effective in terms of selling power.

 

So, I hope you might have gained some insight into the world of social media, for me social media has changed the way we are able to promote ourselves and business. It has enabled us to target different people in ways that are engaging to them.

Olivia McVeigh is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @oliviamcveigh_ ; Linkedin – Olivia McVeigh ; WordPress – https://oliviamcveigh.wordpress.com/blog/ ; Twitter – @McveighOlivia

 

Zuck Goes to Washington

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, testified before Congress on the 10th and 11th of April, amid the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, where it was found that more than 87 million Americans’ personal data were sold and misused for advertising purposes.

The five-hour-long sessions, where the members of the Senates’ and the Houses’ Committee grilled Zuckerberg, however, seemed to serve as an excellent opportunity for Senators, Congresswomen and Congressmen for some good ole political PR.

Each Senator had five minutes, Congresswoman and Congressman four minutes, to question Zuckerberg in the widely-broadcasted hearing. Due to the time constraints, no real probing and questioning could take place, so several members used the time available to them to appeal to their constituents and stakeholders instead. And frankly, time wasn’t the only limitation, as many of the questions also revealed the unfortunate fact, that a large number of the politicians don’t quite know how digital platforms work.

SB1

The ‘invest in my constituency

Some members of the Committee brought up a strangely timed request for Zuckerberg and Facebook to support broadband coverage for rural areas in their constituencies – and by some, I mean at least four members.

Senator Capito of West Virginia: “My state, I’m from West Virginia, and thank you for visiting and next time you visit, if you would please bring some fiber because we don’t have connectivity in — in our rural areas like we really need, and Facebook could really help us with that.

Congressman Cramer of North Dakota directly asked Zuckerberg to consider investing in his district “Let me suggest that you look someplace perhaps in the middle of the North American continent for some people, maybe even your next big investment of — of capital could be in — in some place like, say, Bismarck, North Dakota.

The ‘I’m doing all the work

Others took a different approach and spoke about pieces of legislation they have worked on in the past or are working on at the moment to highlight their personal achievements and push their own agenda into the spotlight.

Here’s an example from Congressman Pallone of New Jersey: “Now, Congresswoman Schakowsky from Illinois and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards. And I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation.

Another example from Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee: “And you’re hearing there’ll be more bills brought out in the next few weeks. But we have had a bill. The BROWSER Act, and I’m certain that you’re familiar with this, is bipartisan.

Followed up by Congressman Lance of New Jersey: “Congresswoman Blackburn has mentioned her legislation. I’m a co-sponsor of the BROWSER legislation. I commend it to your attention, to the attention of your company. It is for the entire ecosystem. It is for ISPs and edge providers. It is not just for one or the other.

Clearly, Zuckerberg did not provide a straight answer to whether he would support any legislation, he avoided the question by answering along these lines: “in general, I think that that principle is exactly right. And I think we should have a — a discussion around how to best apply that”. At times, the viewer might have been confused whether it was a hearing or whether the members of Congress were competing for Zuckerberg’s attention and approval of their piece of legislation.

The ‘publicity stunt

Others took a completely different approach again and went for something that would grant them coverage.

Like Senator Durbin of Illinois, who seemed to be the first person to take Zuckerberg by surprise as he asked “Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? You could just see Zuckerberg’s mind trying so hard to work out what he was getting at before responding with a “No”. And it worked – this became one of the most picked up parts of the hearing.

But Senator Cruz’ (Texas) questioning was, without a doubt, the most memorable of all, as Cruz came hard for Zuckerberg, accusing Facebook of engaging in “a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship”, suggesting that right-leaning users’ content gets censored because of the political bias of Facebook’s staff. Needless to say, Cruz became the Republicans’ hero of the day.

Props also seemed to be a popular tool in attracting some attention. Large printed images (yep, Diamond and Silk), infographics, Congressman Duncan of South Carolina even brought a copy of the Constitution that he gave to Zuckerberg at the end of the hearing – an excellent photo op.

Zuck’s pre-packaged image

Now let’s have a quick look at Facebook’s CEO’s performance. Zuckerberg kept repeating a few obviously rehearsed and carefully drafted statements, which were aimed to reframe Facebook’s image from an international corporation to a dorm room start-up that somehow got too big.SB2

What he said:

“The average American, I think, uses about eight different communication and social network apps to stay connected to people.

What he really said:

We’re not a monopoly.

What he said:

“So, from the beginning of the company in 2004 — I started in my dorm room; it was me and my roommate.

“I believe, to start a company in your dorm room and then grow it to be at the scale that we’re at now without making some mistakes.

“The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.

What he really said:

We don’t want to be perceived as a large corporation, even though we are. We want you to think we don’t really know what we’re doing so you can’t blame us for making mistakes.

What he said:

I don’t come to Washington, D.C., too often. I’m going to direct my team to focus on this.

What he really said:

I’m only here because you made me, but that’s all you can expect from me.

What he said:

“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together.

What he really said:

We want you to think that we don’t even care about money – it’s all about the people.

What he said:

I’m not the type of person who thinks that there should be no regulation, especially because the Internet is getting to be so important in people’s lives around the world. But I think the details on this really matter.

What he really said:

We want regulation that won’t really limit us, but will keep up the perception that we are being socially responsible.

Will the Cambridge Analytica scandal really hurt Facebook? We’re yet to see. Everyone expected Zuckerberg to be sweating in the hot seat, but he got away fairly easily. He apologized for making a mistake, played the victim card well, but made no concrete promises or commitments. Zuckerberg vs. Washington, 2:0.

Silvia Bajlova is an MSc Communications and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can follow her on Twitter and contact her on LinkedIn.