The Connection Between Social Reactions to Coronavirus and Moral Panic
Misinformation still abounds on these platforms, of course. But so do opportunities to correct it—at least in a relatively free society. The president himself may be among those downplaying the disease's seriousness, but anyone with a Twitter account can publicly push back at him. In China, where government tightly regulates digital platforms, we've seen authorities use social media to spread damaging propaganda that citizens aren't allowed to dispute. Meanwhile, technology and digital media companies are playing another important, if somewhat less lofty, function: providing entertainment, diversion, and a non-disease-spreading social outlet to the increasing number of people electing or forced to stay in. It is, at least, the best of all times to be stuck at home.
Universities can also launch social media campaigns that support Asian and Asian-American students (and other targets) in the form of infographics or videos. Both university administrators and department heads should issue a notice that COVID-19–related prejudice or xenophobic reactions from academic staff and other students will not be tolerated and will be treated in accordance with anti-discrimination laws. Finally, university leaders at all levels should encourage students and academic staff to provide extra support and kindness to Asian and other international students during the ongoing outbreak (L. Asmelash, 2020).
European countries, including Italy, France, and Spain, are considering or already adopted special financial measures to support workers, low-income families, and small businesses. Unconditional tax cuts for employers and employee-side payroll tax cuts are often poorly targeted and may not reach those most in need. For example, expanded social insurance programs like unemployment may permit workers to stay on payroll and be paid when they cannot work because of a COVID-19 downturn.
L. Asmelash, “UC Berkeley faces backlash after stating ‘xenophobia’ is ‘common’ or ‘normal’ reaction to coronavirus,” CNN (2020).
B. A. O'Shea et al., Soc. Psychol. Pers. Sci., 10.1177/1948550619862319 (2019).
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T. Hamamura, P. G. Laird, J. Multicult. Couns. Dev. 42, 205 (2014)