Ebola and Social Media

The social media universe is reacting to the ebola crisis: Between the Ivorian Ice bucket challenge, the interactive open street maps, the youtube-released song, the hashtags and the numerous Facebook groups – Overview of the African-made initiatives.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard of the ALS Ice bucket challenge that’s flooding our social (and mainstream) media channels? You’ve also heard that one of the deadliest outbreak of Ebola is happening in West Africa as we speak, right?

Put together the Ebola outbreak + the ALS Ice Bucket challenge & the imagination of one of Ivory coast’s most prolific blogger, Edith Brou, you get….. #MousserContreEbola.

The principle: Once nominated, if you accept, you have to pour a bucket full of soapy water over your head and then distribute 3 hand sanitizers. If you refuse, you ought to give out 9 hands sanitizers.

As Edith told France 24, “I felt like the Ice Bucket Challenge would soon arrive in Côte d’Ivoire, and since the Ebola virus is also on its way, I thought it would be more useful to launch a campaign using their principle, but against this virus”. “Instead of using ice, I offered to do the challenge with soapy water. In their prevention campaign, the government emphasized that an excellent hygiene is essential to avoid the disease. I wanted to offer an ‘extreme’ version of these advice!” she adds.

Youtube: Alongside this initiative, we shouldn’t forget Israel Yoroba’s song, put together in …. 5 days! The result, a beautiful, straight forward song – #StopEbola. “I used the government’s main advice and I translated them into easily understandable lyrics” he tells France 24. Good lessons from the Ivorian web-activists who feel like each citizen must become an active part of his/her country’s development, highlighted by the hashtag #QuandTuPeuxTuPeux (when you can, you can). It’s worth noting that the song is shared under a creative commons licence (CC By SA).

Open Street Map: There is also Florent Youzan and his team of volunteers’ interactive map of ebola prevention in Côte d’Ivoire or Cedric Moro and the @hotosm volunteers’ e-tracking map on Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia & Guinea.A twitter chat even happened on august 13th with the hashtag #stopebola14!

Facebook: When it comes to Facebook groups, looking up “Ebola” will give you plenty of alternatives: Some personal favorites – Ebola watch Ghana, which I would personal rename “Ghana watches Ebola” counts some 267 members and provides good information, so does Ebola watch dog, with its 399 members and Ebola Information West Africa/Afrique de l’Ouest with 187 members, and which has the advantage of being in both French and English! Although I must warn you, some are straight-up racist/fascist, serving as a good support to Jean Marie Le pen’s, the founder of the Front National (France’s extreme right’s party),suggestion that Ebola is a solution to the global population explosion: “the virus ‘could sort out demographic explosion’ and by extension Europe’s ‘immigration problem’”. In my opinion, this one sometimes is: Ebola News, Tracking & General Information – shamefully, because it does have valuable insights. As Fast company reminds us with the example of a Facebook user claiming that “Bitter Kola Nut to Cure Ebola”, the false information on these platforms is something current and that everyone should be aware of.

Twitter: As for twitter, following #StopEbola, #StopEbola14#KickEbolaOut#FactsOnEbola (Nigeria),  #EbolaFacts (Ghana) and #MousserContreEbola (Ivory Coast) would be a good start!

Want to know what will happen in the future? Then you must check “Estimating and Predicting Epidemic Behavior for the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak” by Grant Brown & Jason Oleson.

How about we finish up on a light note, Cyriac Gbogou, le chef du village, getting submerged – From me, to you, I wish I had been the person throwing the water over his head!

We cannot complain about what they think of us until we start telling them about us.

A bientôt,

– Sarah C.

P.S: More info on: L’express, LaFrance.co & RFI 

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