This article was first published in Deccan Chronicle. Views are personal.
One of the most evident changes brought about by the pandemic has been accelerated shifting our interactions online. This involves turning to the web not just our engagements with friends or colleagues, but also for questions and comments about the virus and the developments around it. For instance, running Google searches on whether the virus can spread through water, or engaging on Twitter about the latest numbers and how they can be controlled.
Like many such transitions, there are multiple anticipated second-order effects of increased user interaction on platforms. Firstly, an increased number of searches around COVID-19 provides advertisers with an incentive to leverage that to their advantage. This includes advertising false cures for the virus, or masks, or immunity boosters. In addition, it also includes using controversial targeting options (such as anti-vaccine groups) to sell products.