At a time when Coronavirus, a global pandemic is being battled, Social Media Matters has started an initiative, “My Pincode”. The project My Pincode is developed to bring together subject matter experts, key knowledge resource points and organisations/individuals together to create Open Groups on Facebook which are essentially community groups sharing verified information, proof that the power of communities and the platform can bring people together in times of an emergency. The issues/concerns being highlighted include the mass supply of ration, blood donation, real-time hyper-local updates like emergency help, mental health helplines and support, opportunities to volunteer and donate, care for pets and animals and how people can support migrant workers, etc.
My Pincode is about local groups on Facebook to virtually connect, communicate, collaborate and create a support system for each other in their respective Pincode areas. These groups bring together users, community leaders, subject matter experts, resource points and organisations at a very hyper-local level to provide immediate support, relief, and share critical information.
The launch of My Pincode is an attempt to bring together communities from 170 hotspots of India across 17 states (as identified by the Central Government of India on April 15, 2020). An endeavour to crowdsource help, open groups has been formed and is being managed by moderators and group admins, who have been adequately trained by Social Media Matters. Each State has a Moderator and several admins who have been carefully moderating the discussions and letting users connect with each other for essential and verified information. One core principle maintained for My Pincode is posting of verified information. The volunteers, admins, and moderators have all been trained in fact-checking methods and verification of information so as to keep fake profiles/information away. They have also been trained on effective tips and tricks to moderate the groups on aspects such as Commenting, Approvals, Engagement, Verification, Posting and Creating Content.
The core idea is to share through stories directly from the Open Group moderators/admins/beneficiaries on how the communities are able to connect and collaborate and build a support system. And to ensure maximum positive impact, the moderators and admins of each of these groups have been trained with skills to alert the right authorities, curb and limit misinformation and provide help immediately. Typically, the project My Pincode is an unconventional channel for people to connect and share hyper-local information in these times of crisis.
Information discussed in the groups:
· Which is the nearest clinic I can visit?
· Can I visit the police stations?
· Where can I get emergency help?
· What does the situation look like right now on the roads?
· What are the queues like at the shops?
· How much longer will supplies last?
· Are courier services working in the area?
· Which are the nearest Government and Private Testing Centres?
· Are postal services working in the area?
· How do I obtain a curfew pass?
· What is the situation at the hospitals?
· Are there any blood donor requests?