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WHO targets teens on social media to debunk coronavirus myths

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GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP)— The World Health Organization said Friday it was working with social media companies in a bid to quash misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic — including on more light-hearted apps popular with teenagers.

The WHO said it had started working with TikTok and Snapchat since the pandemic broke out in a bid to reach out to teen and younger social messaging app users.

“We’re battling misinformation every day,” said Andy Pattison, the UN health agency’s digital solutions manager.

On social media, “false stories outperform the truth on every single subject” in how far and how quickly they spread, he told a virtual press briefing.

The WHO is therefore attempting to combat falsehoods with science-based messages through the most commonly-used social media apps, he said.

Aleksandra Kuzmanovic, the WHO’s social media manager, said the organisation had also established a presence on TikTok and Snapchat during the COVID-19 pandemic, because most of its followers on previous platforms were in the 25 to 35 age bracket.

“On TikTok and Snapchat, we are now reaching audiences that are much younger,” she said.

“It was important for us to communicate with teenagers how they can protect themselves.

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“We are a science-based organisation that has serious information and TikTok is a platform that is perceived as funny — people share funny videos and information.”

Kuzmanovic said the challenge was how to put across serious, educational information on TikTok. 

“With their help, we adjusted some of our video products to be suitable to the platform,” she said.

Google, YouTube filtering –

The WHO has its own dedicated COVID-19 “Myth busters” page, directly debunking popular rumours about the virus, which has killed more than 230,000 people worldwide and infected over 3.2 million.

Pattison said the WHO was working on chatbot features with WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat, but hoped to open channels on up to 30 such apps to take into account the most popular ones in in various countries, such as Line in Japan.

“It’s really important that we reach millions of people directly in their own language,” he said.

Pattison said that the WHO was partnering with YouTube to try to remove harmful misinformation and eliminate scientifically baseless rumours, in a two-way relationship.

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YouTube gives the WHO insights into trending COVID-19 rumours and the UN agency tells them which are harmless and which might be dangerous.

Pattison said Google was working with the WHO so that searches for COVID-19 produced news from credible outlets and local in-country health information.

“They’ve been very good at finding the right balance,” he said.

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Meta Announces New Ad Options for Facebook Reels Which Could Facilitate Creator Revenue Share

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Meta Announces New Ad Options for Facebook Reels Which Could Facilitate Creator Revenue Share

Meta sees Reels as ‘the future of video’ on its platforms, with engagement with short-form content being one of the only positive growth trends across its apps at present.

Whether that’s due to more people looking to watch Reels, or Meta pumping more of them into feeds, is another question – but clearly, Meta’s keen to double-down on Reels content, which also means that it needs to offer Reels creators greater revenue share, in order to keep them posting.

On this, Meta has today outlined some new Reels ad options, which will provide more capacity for brands to tap into the format, while also, ideally, providing a pathway to revenue share for top creators.

The first new option in testing is ‘post-loop ads’ which are 4-10- second, skippable video ads that will play after a Reel has ended.

As you can see in this example, some Facebook Reels will now show an ‘Ad starting soon’ indicator as you reach the end of a Reel, which will then move into a post-loop ad. When the ad finishes playing, the original Reel will resume and loop again.

As noted, it could be a way to more directly monetize Reels content, though the interruption likely won’t be welcome for viewers, and it’ll be interesting to see what the actual view rates are on such ads. It’ll also be interesting to see if Meta looks to attribute those ad views to the original Reel, and how that could relate to revenue share for Reels creators.

The option is only in early testing, so there’s not a lot to go on at this stage.

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Meta’s also testing new image carousel ads in Facebook Reels – horizontally-scrollable ads which can include up to 10 images that are displayed at the bottom of Facebook Reels content.

Meta ads update

These promotions will be directly linked back to individual Reel performance, and could provide another monetization option for creators, while also enabling brands to tap into popular clips. TikTok offers a similar ad option in its tools.

On another front, Meta’s also giving brands access to more music options for their Reels, with new, ‘high-quality’ songs added to its Sound Collection that can be added to Carousel Ads on Reels.

Meta ads update

Note that these aren’t commercial tracks – you won’t be able to add the latest Lady Gaga song to your ad. But there are some good instrumental tracks to add atmosphere and presence to your promotions.

“Businesses can select a song from our library or allow the app to automatically choose the best music for an ad based on its content.”

I’d probably advise against letting the app automatically choose the best music, but maybe, based on its suggestions, you might be able to find the right soundtrack for your promotions.

Short-form video monetization is the next big battleground, with YouTube recently outlining its new Shorts monetization process, and TikTok still developing its live-stream commerce tools, as a means to facilitate better revenue share. Inserting ads into such brief clips is challenging, especially in a user-friendly way. But the platform that can get it right stands to win out, by providing direct creator monetization, based on content performance, which will likely, eventually see the top creators gravitate towards those platforms as they seek to maximize their opportunities.

Meta’s new options don’t seem to be a match for YouTube’s new Shorts program, which will allocate a share of total ad revenue to Shorts creators based on relative view counts. But it’s still early days, and no one has the answers yet.

As such, you can expect each platform to keep trying new things, as they work to beat out the competition.  

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