During these times of crisis and profound behavioural changes, social media has become more visible and useful than ever.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and Founder, “for the first time ever, there are now more than three billion people actively using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month. That includes 2.6 billion people using Facebook alone, and more than 2.3 billion people using at least one of our services every day. In many of the places that have been hardest hit by the virus, messaging volume increased more than 50 percent, and voice and video calling have more than doubled across Messenger and WhatsApp.”
If you have been logging on to Facebook recently, you may have noticed many new features:
A Covid-19 Information Center at the top of everyone’s Facebook app, with authoritative information from health officials and governments, and messages encouraging people to stay home that are coming from public figures they trust. So far, they have directed more than two billion people to it.
Most recently Facebook announced Messenger Rooms a group video chat designed for social interactions, from hosting celebrations, game nights, family reunions, or just have some time to hang out. It works just like Zoom, you can send people a link, and they can join even if they are not on Facebook. You will be able to create rooms and invite people across WhatsApp, Instagram, and Portal as well.
Yesterday, the new Facebook Shops was launched – “the basic idea is that any small business can easily start a shop to sell things directly across our apps. If you visit someone’s shop, you will be able to see that small business’s story, see their featured products, and buy them in our apps”, stated Zuckerberg.
Finally, a new emoji has appeared on the timeline aside from the usual array of emotions – from like, love, angry, and sad. It is a care emoji, and it is a way of expressing, in these tough times, that you care for something. A hug in an emoji, in effect, as it is a face holding a heart. This tiny emoji is now subject of more than 20 Facebook groups worldwide with more than 50k members, and more than 100 videos.
But this online social media and social networking service is quickly adapting all of their services as well: WhatsApp doubled the number of people who can participate in a group video call from four to eight, Messenger will have new effects like 360 virtual backgrounds, Facebook Dating is hosting virtual dates, you can now watch live videos on desktop and save your live videos to IGTV on Instagram, and Messenger Kids is expanding to more than 70 countries and territories.
All these changes are framed under the Facebook Inc. strategy to support people around the world during the crisis, under the principles of assisting the public health response, helping people stay connected while they are apart, and helping small business and economic recovery.