China's version of TikTok launches feature to spread awareness and fight Wuhan coronavirus

Wuhan virus masks
  • The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed at least 18 people and infected more than 630.
  • The virus can pass from human to human, and experts are rushing to study it and stop it from spreading further.
  • Some users of Douyin, the version of short-form video app TikTok that's available in China, are reporting that the platform has launched an information page to inform about symptoms, plus a video effect to show support for medical staff and patients.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Chinese shortform video app Douyin has reportedly added features related to the spread of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. The app has launched a #FightPneumonia page that "provides updates on the spread of the coronavirus, expert reports and analysis, as well as relevant information on prevention" according to Chinese business and technology website TMT Post.

Pandaily, another Chinese outlet, reported that the Douyin page aggregated information regarding where the illness is spreading and what prevention measures people could take.

Beyond raising awareness, Douyin is also an outlet for support to doctors and medical staff fighting the virus, and for patients who have been infected. Analyst Daniel Ahmad wrote on Twitter that the app had launched a "Jiayou video effect (that signals encouragement) that people are using to leave positive messages in support of doctors, medical staff and patients." Jiayou, which literally means "add oil," was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year. In practice, it is used to mean "expressing encouragement, incitement, or support: go on! go for it!"

 

Celebrities, influencers, and others users are reportedly posting videos with the effect to show support for patients and medical professionals. They pose with a thumbs up, smiling, while the audio plays.

Douyin's parent company, ByteDance, launched the short-form video app in China in 2016, and it skyrocketed to popularity. Within a year, the app had 100 million users and one billion views per day, and this month reported 400 million daily users. Douyin grew outside of China by a name more familiar to US fans: TikTok, and grew popular in the US after buying another short-form video app, Musical.ly. It has since become the second-most-downloaded app in the App Store and Google Play store in 2019, surpassed only by Facebook-owned WhatsApp. ByteDance, which owns both Douyin and TikTok, is the most valuable private company in the world, at an estimated $75 billion. ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The first case in this outbreak of the coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, in December. The virus, with its pneumonia-like symptoms of a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, has killed at least 18 people so far. More than 600 people have reportedly been sickened, with cases in at least seven other countries. On Wednesday, local authorities in Wuhan announced a quarantine, shutting down transportation for the 11 million residents of the region, though the virus has already traveled to other areas of the country.

This isn't the first time Douyin or TikTok has hosted public health information. In October, TechCrunch reported that TikTok was working with Indian firms and creators to make videos about health tips and mental health awareness. Despite a brief ban in 2019, India is TikTok's largest market.

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