Instagram has launched a new feature called Co-Watching to help people stay connected virtually while maintaining a social distance during the coronavirus outbreak. The feature allows users to view Instagram posts together with their friends over a video chat. The Facebook-owned company has also added new stickers to help people share information related to COVID-19 information such as reminders to watch hands and maintain a distance from others. The photo-sharing platform will also remove some COVID-19 related content from Explore to eradicate fake news circulation with respect to the pandemic.
One of the biggest new additions that Instagram has announced to support the ongoing efforts to limit the coronavirus spread is the launch of the Co-Watching feature. It will let multiple users view Instagram posts together over a video chat.
You can start a video chat by tapping the video chat icon in the Direct inbox. Alternatively, the new feature can be accessed through an existing Direct thread.
Once a video chat is started, you can view saved, liked, or suggested photos and videos by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner of the ongoing chat. All this would help you interact with your loved ones without connecting with them physically.
In addition to the Co-Watching feature, Instagram has started working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health ministries to provide coronavirus-related details. A message will be visible on top of the Instagram feed for all users around the globe that will include a button to give access to the authenticated information.
New stickers will also be provided to let you share COVID-19 information in your Instagram Stories. These stickers will include reminders to wash your hands and distance yourself from others.
“Over the past few weeks we've added a notice at the top of feed for countries affected by COVID-19. The notice includes reliable resources from expert health organisations. In addition, we've been highlighting resources from these organisations when people view related hashtags,” the company noted in a blog post.
Instagram is also working with third-party fact checkers to downrank false information in feed and Stories. The platform is also claimed to have prohibited misleading ads for products that refer to COVID-19 “in ways intended to create urgency, guarantee cures or prevent people from contracting it”. It has also temporarily banned advertisements and branded content that promote certain medical supplies, including face masks. Further, you won't be able to search for COVID-19 related AR effects unless they were built in partnership by a health organisation.
Users on Instagram will also be able to donate funds to nonprofits through a Donation sticker expanded to additional countries. Similarly, a “Stay Home” sticker has been developed that can be shared to show off the practice of social distancing.
“We will continue to prioritise safety, connecting people with accurate information, and encouraging support as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves,” the company noted.
Instagram isn't the only social media platform that has made certain changes to reduce the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube also recently brought new additions to limit the pandemic. Facebook and Google are also reportedly working with the US government to track and combat the disease that has taken the lives of thousands of individuals across the world.