New social media features to try during quarantine

By Jamie Lu, staff writer

With the onslaught of people turning to their phones and Internet during quarantine, social media platforms have had to adapt and rise to the challenge.

According to later.com, Facebook and Instagram have seen around a 40% increase in activity and Tik Tok has seen an 18 percent increase in downloads across the globe. The sudden spike in social media activity has been noticed, and many online platforms have risen to the occasion.

Instagram recently launched a feature called Co-Watching that allows a group of friends to scroll through content together over video chat. One simply creates a group chat of up to six people through the Instagram direct message feature and uses it to video call, then hits the “Posts” button to share posts. Co-Watching allows one person to share posts they’ve liked or saved with the entire group to browse through, or they can simply scroll through a shared explore page with posts Instagram has recommended together. This will turn an activity that has always been done solo into a social and interactive experience. 

Recognizing how people might be suffering more stress due to COVID-19, Snapchat is stepping up to support its users with a “Here for You” function that acts as a mental health resource center. Originally scheduled to release in the coming months, the company decided to launch this feature in late March because of the pandemic. 

Snapchat released the statement, “In light of the anxiety and stress people are experiencing with the onset of coronavirus, we’re speeding up the launch of ‘Here For You’ and making the feature available to all Snapchatters globally. As part of the rollout, we’re also building a customized search section within Here For You related specifically to coronavirus, which will showcase relevant updates from the World Health Organization, the CDC, Crisis Text Line, NHS and other partners who are creating content on anxiety specifically related to coronavirus.” “Here for You” provides support and information from experts to users experiencing mental health or emotional crises and will lead them to relevant outside resources and exercises that will help them.

Around the same time, Tik Tok also launched a new entertainment feature called “Happy at Home” that live streamed popular musicians, actors and comedians daily for five days from March 23-27. Each live stream lasted around 30 minutes and featured artists including Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion, Jason Derulo, Troye Sivan, Yungblud, Lauv and more. Although different from in-person concerts and festivals, this feature allowed people to take a break from their quarantine lives and experience their favorite musicians and entertainers.

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