How Digital Platforms are Updating During the Health Crisis

In the wake of Coronavirus, and all the changes it’s brought with it, many of the tech giants are adding new features or updating algorithms of their search and social platforms. While some updates are seemingly small, all of them focus around the safe sharing of information and creating a better-connected user experience as we all navigate this time together!

Instagram – Credible Info & Co-watching Feature

Instagram (and parent company Facebook) have made a couple changes since the start of the current health crisis. One of the most important updates was one to their algorithm to slow the spread of misinformation. The platform has prevented unreputable COVID-19 related accounts from appearing in users’ ‘recommendations’ and virus related content from showing up in the ‘explore’ area of the tab unless it’s from a credible source such as the WHO or CDC.

An update on the lighter side of things is the addition of the co-watching feature which allows users on both Instagram and Facebook to share photo or video content while they’re on a video chat with other users. The update comes at a time when users are searching for new ways to stay connected, so long are the days of needing separate devices to send quarantine memes while you’re video chatting with someone!

Google – Search Result Options & a Non-update of Chrome

You may have noticed in the last couple weeks that Google has added some new options to their search results to benefit businesses, especially in the restaurant industry. Aside from including reminders that listed business hours may vary, Google now allows restaurants to mark what level of service they are offering (dine-in, takeout, delivery). The update enables the hospitality industry to be able to more clearly communicate with diners, while maintaining a customer base and making it easier to squash that chicken parm craving while sheltering at home.

Chrome’s change is more of an update…on an update. In the last few days, Google has halted their roll out of a change to the browser that aimed to increase security and privacy. The update, which began in February with the release of Chrome 80, alters the way the browser handles third-party cookies in an effort to thwart cyber-attacks which can often stem from vulnerabilities within the cookie structure. Long story short, the change was set to cause wide-spread disruption to many smaller sites who didn’t have the ability to update their systems. To lessen the impact of online transactions such as personal banking, grocery ordering, and general online commerce of smaller business during this time, Google has decided to delay the update until further notice.

Facebook – Business Hours / Service Update

Similar to Google, Facebook released what they are calling “Temporary Service Changes” for business pages that allow them to adjust hours and offerings during this time (think: online classes offered, delivery available, etc). They’ve also rolled out the ability for businesses to pin posts to the top of their timeline to communicate new information with customers. Any updates made to pages are set to appear on the page itself, page previews, and Facebook search results. If you’re looking to make updates to a page, the options can be found under the Temporary Service Change option under Page Info.

Pinterest – Well, Sort Of

This one isn’t really a platform change, but rather a new app launched by the CEO of everyone’s favorite craft and recipe inspo source, Pinterest. Ben Silbermann, CEO and Co-founder of Pinterest has teamed up with leading scientists from MIT and Harvard to develop a crowd-sourcing app to track the movement of COVID-19 in real time. The app, called “How We Feel” enables users to anonymously record and track symptoms, medical diagnoses and isolation information. The hope is that by putting the data in the hands of the public, officials will be able to more accurately track the illness without waiting for official medical records to be submitted. Bonus points to the founder and his wife for donating a meal to the non-profit Feeding America for every new download of the app. What’s not to love about data, especially when it’s for the greater good?