For most of us, social distancing has meant a lot of major lifestyle changes — from cooking in more frequently to mastering Zoom, to relying heavily on DM technology to maintain contact with friends. As in, no more chilling on the couch with your friend group, Instagram stalking side-by-side — a hobby that used to occupy much of my time pre-global pandemic. But now, Instagram is introducing a new feature that lets users do this remotely.
Co-Watching lets you view posts with your friends over video chat within Instagram — including saved, liked, and suggested photos/videos. To enable this new feature, click the video icon within an already existing DM thread, or click the plus sign in the top of the Direct inbox to create your desired chat group and click the video icon from there. From here, tap the photo icon in the bottom left corner of your video chat to display posts that you can view together as a group.
You may have also noticed the new Stay Home button fixed at the top left of your Instagram Story carousel, which aggregates all the Stories of people you follow who are using the Stay Home sticker to document how they're passing the time while practicing social distancing at home.
In addition to releasing features to help users maintain a sense of connection while self-isolating, Instagram is also adding tools to help us stay informed with up-to-date and accurate facts about COVID-19. To reduce the circulation of misinformation, Instagram announced today that it will be removing COVID-19 content from the Explore tab unless posted by a credible health organization, as well as downranking COVID-19 content deemed false by third-party fact-checkers in feeds and Stories (plus removing it from Explore and hashtag pages altogether). Instagram has also banned ads and sponsored content for products that claim to protect people against COVID-19 as well as medical supplies like face masks.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.