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Coronavirus: Mass Media and Social Media

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 23465, tabled on 2 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will take steps with (a) social media companies and (b) media outlets to ensure that the information they provide to the public on covid-19 is (i) consistent, (ii) timely, (iii) Government approved and (iv) can be accessed without a subscription.

Answered on

10 March 2020

The Department is working with a number of social media companies. This includes Twitter – who now have a COVID-19 prompt to its search function. This function automatically directs users to the Department’s Twitter page and website when they search for #Coronavirus. The Department is also working with TikTok and a media medic to provide content on handwashing and how people can look after themselves, as well as including a search function directing people to National Health Service guidance.

The communications team within the Department are constantly in contact with all sections of the media – local, national and consumer. The Chief Medical Officer has hosted several press briefings and, along with Departmental Ministers, Public Health England senior clinical spokespeople and NHS senior leads, has undertaken many media interviews.

The Department launched a Government funded United Kingdom-wide advertising campaign on 2 February to provide clear advice to the public on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impact on NHS services. This included public health advice on how people can protect themselves from infection. The Department updated this campaign with a new creative and new messaging which launched on 4 March. The campaign can be seen across print, digital and radio.