Instagram unveils new ‘co-watching’ feature to ease isolation

Agence France-Presse
Instagram unveils new ‘co-watching’ feature to ease isolation
The new feature lets people look at posts together during video chat

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Instagram unveiled a new feature Tuesday allowing users to connect more easily over video and shared content as part of a move to ease isolation stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Facebook-owned image-centric social network also announced new efforts to promote reliable content about the outbreak and stop the spread of misinformation .

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, told journalists the new “co-watching” feature allows people to connect around online content while video chatting. The new feature lets people browse Instagram posts together while on video chat. 

To access it, users will have to start a video chat. On the chat, they are given the option to tap a photo icon in the bottom left corner of the chat that allows them to view posts they have saved or liked, along with other suggested content. 

This is becoming more important with many people around the world cut off from friends and family due to “shelter in place” orders.

“We can play a role in helping to sort of combat that loneliness,” he said.

The service with more than one billion users worldwide also announced it would ramp up efforts to deliver verified information and stamp out hoaxes.

Mosseri said the company is not seeing a coordinated misinformation effort but “bad advice,” and unproven remedies.

As a result, Instagram directs users to information from the World Health Organization and local health ministries, according to a blog post.

Instagram said it would also add “stickers” that signify verified coronavirus information and would remove content about health claims “unless posted by a credible health organization.”

The social network also said it would offer links to donations for nonprofit organizations and offer tips for social distancing.

The initiative follows similar efforts by Facebook on its core social platform as well as on its Messenger and WhatsApp services and by other platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.

More than two billion people use at least one of Facebook’s “family” of applications daily. –

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