Lockdowns, quarantines, restrictions of movement, sinking financial markets, event cancellations, sports postponement and food shortages.

This is the reality of 2020, as the world moves beyond the point of containment of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

In a matter of months, the outbreak has evolved from a regional epidemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan to a global pandemic.

The first in the era of social media.

Never before has user-generated content (UGC) been more crucial for news coverage than on the frontline of our new global health emergency.

Videos and images posted on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok and Twitter have been, on occasions, the only possible access to red zones or locked-down areas in the worst affected parts of China, Italy, Iran, South Korea as well as quarantined cruise ships.

Similarly, it’s on social media where real human emotion is most visceral, told through the moments of those living through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, as the virus spreads fast so too does the false information fervor.

In an age when a global majority consume information through social media there is a prevalence of disinformation, not previously seen in past pandemics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled the spread of incorrect, misleading and false medical advice as an infodemic.

Whilst news organisations and fact checkers around the world fight against the unverified videos and conspiracy theories contaminating social media platforms.

As a digital native news agency, Ruptly has navigated this challenge with a UGC approach based on establishing trust with the source and telling their personal story through a selfie account, or footage of their city and surroundings.

This approach is guiding us to appropriately report the human story of the COVID-19 pandemic.