As part of a broader response to the COVID-19 crisis, Instagram just unveiled Co-Watching a new feature that lets users browse posts with friends in a video-chat format.
As people around the world are being asked to isolate and distance themselves from others, the feature is designed to help people safely socialize.
To start a video chat, users can simply tapping a new icon in the Direct inbox, or in an existing Direct thread.
They can also view saved, liked and suggested photos and videos by tapping a photo icon in the bottom left corner in an ongoing video chat.
In addition to the feature, Instagram is also ramping up efforts to promote accurate information about the pandemic, while cracking down on related misinformation.
Instagram users who search for information related to COVID-19 should increasingly encounter educational messages connecting them to resources from the World Health Organization and local health ministries.
“We are working quickly to make this available globally over the coming weeks,” the Facebook unit stated.
The company is also launching new stickers to help people share accurate COVID-19 information in Stories.
These new features include reminders to wash your hands, distance yourself from others and other health-related messages. These sticker are expected to be available in users’ cameras in the coming days.
At present, Instagram has committed to removing COVID-19 accounts from account recommendations, while it is working to remove some COVID-19 related content from Explore — unless it is posted by credible health organizations.
In addition to its existing policies on misinformation, Instagram also plans to begin down-ranking content in feeds and Stories that has been rated false by third-party fact checkers.
Over the past few weeks, Instagram has added a notice at the top of users’ feeds, which includes reliable resources from expert health organizations. The platform highlights resources from these organizations when people view related hashtags.