Proceedings of The 3rd World Conference on Management, Business and Economics
Social Media & COVID-19: Socioeconomic and political aspects in 2022 and beyond
LAB ICT Heron , Panagiotis Tzavaras and Athanasios Davalas
Social Media are emerging as the dominant means of information and social interaction, while directly affecting political and financial elements of contemporary life. And while there is a wide acknowledgement of both their positive as well as their negative effects, it is questionable whether both research as well as public opinion understand all implications stemming from these effects.
To this end, this study reviews literature on the socioeconomical and financial effects of Social Media on the contemporary way of living, especially in light of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to map the current interaction of social media with our lives and way of thinking. A compilation of findings is attempting to shed a light on the ever-evolving role social media will play in mitigating and managing the COVID-19 crisis, taking into consideration the social media dominance emerging in the global ecosystem, a dominance that is touching upon the ways we interact, learn, access information, alleviate stress understand politics and participate in public life.
Sociology has a quite intriguing phenomenon to interpret, this of a new-age media that is shaping opinion, fear, preferences or even consumer behavior, taking into consideration all the social, economic and political effects of this dynamic. Both research as well as empirical evidence showcase that social media might be a revolutionary means of communication, networking and information, however it is this undeniable power of social media is an extremely dangerous tool in the hands of powerful individuals, organizations or governments in manipulating public opinion, fueling propaganda or even attempting a worrisome surveillance of the individuals, with regards to their personal views and choices.
But social media are not only a foe. The astonishing speed in which information can be disseminated through social media, renders them an excellent ally in providing crucial information to mitigate a crisis, especially one similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the magnitude of reach regarding information, needs to be carefully monitored in order to avoid disseminating misleading or even dangerous information. It is for this reason that a new term was introduced, characterizing the dissemination of information through social media as an ‘infodemic’ which is directly referring to a dangerous pandemic.
This study contributes to a better understanding of social media in the socioeconomic and political sphere, by initiating a discussion on how global logic is built due to the use of social media and how we need to thoroughly understand this critical effect of social media on our lives, trying to manage it in a way that benefits the development of a mankind that takes informed decisions on policy, health, science and social life in general.
keywords: Social media, information, fake news; health crisis, COVID-19, infodemic, consumers panic behavior, dissemination of information, knowledge dissemination, social media communication strategies.