Social media and connected technology often gets a bad rap but during this unprecedented time of isolation, it is helping to deliver a feeling of normalcy as millions of people can easily stay in contact with loved ones, work from home and entertain themselves via the Internet. Just imagine how much heavier the feeling of solitude would have felt just 20 years ago.
Instagram on Tuesday launched a new feature designed to promote social distancing during this unprecedented time that we find ourselves in.
Dubbed Co-Watching, the new functionality allows users to view Instagram posts with friends over video chat. Simply fire up a video chat by tapping the associated icon in the Direct inbox or in an existing Direct thread then view liked, saved and suggested photos / videos simultaneously with your friends by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner of the chat.
The Facebook-owned social media platform has also added a “Stay Home” sticker. Accounts that utilize the sticker will be added to a shared Instagram story, aggregating them into one place so users can see how others are practicing social distancing.
Facebook was among the first major tech giants to act against the coronavirus.
In mid-February, the company said it would be skipping the Game Developers Conference and less than a week later, canceled its own F8 developer conference. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would be giving employees a $1,000 bonus to help deal with the financial stress of the pandemic and was investing $100 million to help small businesses.
Facebook is also one of several streaming service providers that agreed to reduce the quality of video content in the EU in order to reduce stress on communications networks.