Instagram’s co-watching feature takes the isolation out of social distancing

Instagram has introduced a new way to stay connected with your friends while practicing social distancing.

The social media giant announced a “co-watching” feature on Tuesday, March 23, which lets users scroll through posts and watch videos together remotely.

Users can open up a video chat in an existing direct message group chat by clicking the video icon in the upper-left corner, or create a new conversation. They’ll also have access to Instagram’s story filters while using the new feature.

The feature allows users to essentially scroll Instagram with their friends — liking posts, catching up on stories, or watching the same Instagram Live together.

Many people are going live on Instagram amid social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

Instagram

The new update also adds a “Stay at Home” sticker to post to your stories to encourage your friends and followers to stay safe. Instagram will create a bigger shared story of everyone you follow who used the sticker.

Although Instagram is usually reserved as a solo activity (we’ve all mindlessly scrolled the platform for hours before wondering where the time went), any chance we get to connect with others, even if it is by browsing social media, is a welcome one these days.

Other platforms have introduced similar features to connect users in typically isolating activities. Netflix Party — a third-party Chrome extension that lets you sync up the same movie or TV show with your friends — is gaining more popularity. The extension even has a chat bar so you can talk about why Love Is Blind is so bad, yet so good.

As governments grapple with the spread of coronavirus, many everyday parts of society have gone virtual, including education, much of the workforce, and even visiting the doctor.

As of Tuesday, there are more than 395,640 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and over 17,241 confirmed deaths, according to an online dashboard that tracks cases.

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