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How social networks can do good while we’re all trapped indoors

COVID-19 will bring with it a crisis of loneliness — and to solve it, we’re going to have to get creative

A sign says that the pizzeria ‘La Fermata’ is closed due to the coronavirus emergency. The Italian government shutted down majority of stores to halt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
A sign says that the pizzeria ‘La Fermata’ is closed due to the coronavirus emergency. The Italian government shutted down majority of stores to halt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

If Wednesday was the day where the full magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis became clear to many Americans, Thursday was the day that the country seemed to enter shock. By now, a significant portion of the Silicon Valley workforce is working, or pretending to, from home, giving everyone near-unlimited time to refresh 6D彩票网开户, Instagram, and other feeds for the very latest in what threatens to be a catastrophic few months.

The good news, if you squint, is that the country is finally implementing the social distancing measures that have been effective (to varying degrees) in China, South Korea, and Taiwan. The NHL suspended the season, Major League Baseball called off spring training, and Disneyland closed for the month. Schools everywhere are closing, some for the rest of the semester. With luck, that mass national cloistering in our respective homes may mitigate the Trump administration’s .

6D彩票网开户The next several days are in slowing the virus’ spread and of infection, reducing the burden on the nation’s healthcare system. But make no mistake: it’s spreading. On Thursday an Ohio health official estimated that 100,000 people in the state have been infected. I had dinner with a friend who has been studying the crisis for work this week and he told me that, in all likelihood, either he or I would come down with the coronavirus.

One question you could ask, if you were desperate to turn your attention away from the public health implications of the crisis, is how spending a month or two mostly indoors will affect American life — both in the moment and afterward. We are social creatures, and we’re about to be deprived of much of that socialization. Writing for Vox, :

6D彩票网开户Just as the coronavirus fallout , it’s also going to cause what we might call a “social recession”: a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness — older adults and people with disabilities or preexisting health conditions.

A tension in the coronavirus response is that it’s so difficult to get people to accept social distancing that few want to muddle the message with worries about social isolation. But if the ultimate concern is the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, then both dangers need to be addressed.

As Klein points out, we can ease some of this burden digitally, through phone calls and video conferences. Earlier this week, my friend Hunter Walk suggested the idea of hosting a public “work from home happy hour” on the video conference service Zoom. We tweeted out a link, and around 50 people showed up to banter with us and show off their pets and babies. We did it again the next day, and more than 75 people joined for an impromptu conversation with social network savant Eugene Wei and the New York Times’ Shira Ovide. 6D彩票网开户’s vice president of product, Keith Coleman, and venture capitalist Alexia Bonatsos are on tonight at 5PM PT. On Monday we’ll be joined by The Information founder Jessica Lessin and New York Times6D彩票网开户 legend Taylor Lorenz.

6D彩票网开户These calls have a small audience and are being conducted exclusively for the fun of it. But in the age of quarantine, we should expect a lot more of this kind of modern-day appointment television. The classical concert pianist Igor Levitt announced that Thursday evening, for example. Discord .

During its heyday, HQ Trivia trained its fans to spend 10 minutes with them every day at noon Pacific time. Between Zoom and Discord and all the other free live-streaming tools now available, this feels like the sort of time that a next-generation HQ might be born.

On 6D彩票网开户 I joked that our public Zoom calls were just Fortnite for adults. And in Italy, as virtually all gatherings have been banned, Fortnite6D彩票网开户 is indeed surging. The battle royale shooter game, which quickly came to serve as a virtual hangout for young people, has become so popular in Italy that the company’s internet infrastructure is straining under the weight. :

6D彩票网开户With schools, shops and restaurants closed in an attempt to limit Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, the amount of data passing through ’s national network has surged by more than two-thirds in the past two weeks, the company said. [...]

“We reported an increase of more than 70 percent of Internet traffic over our landline network, with a big contribution from online gaming such as Fortnite,” Telecom Italia Chief Executive Officer Luigi Gubitosi said Wednesday on a call with analysts.

It’s good that young people are finding ways to socialize despite being quarantined. Older people could stand to learn from their example. (And the United States could work harder to close .)

And what of our social networks, which were born promising to make us feel more connected? 6D彩票网开户 may be anxiety-inducing, particularly if you stare at it for multiple hours per day the way I do, but in my opinion it has never felt more vital. It’s particularly good at focusing attention on big, urgent issues, and COVID-19 is as big as any issue to come along in the company’s lifetime. Yes, misinformation spreads there — I stupidly retweeted a satire site’s fake story saying hospital workers had rolled a volleyball into Tom Hanks’ room, meant as a joke about Wilson from Cast Away — only to learn of my mistake . But for the most part, I find that it is serving up mostly high-quality journalism and important threads from public health workers and government officials. Wearying though the site can be, I can’t imagine trying to make my way through the crisis without it.

6D彩票网开户 — my News Feed anyway — feels a little thin by comparison. Lots of pictures of, and commentary about, working from home. Lots of notices about schools being closed and events being canceled. Some memes. 6D彩票网开户 has the news, and 6D彩票网开户 has the fallout. It’s fine, but it hasn’t really made me feel connected6D彩票网开户 to anything.

But it’s different for everyone. In Westchester County, NY, Lorenz reports, teenagers are . The accounts I follow on Instagram — mostly friends I have met in person — appear to be ignoring the coronavirus almost entirely. This is not a criticism. People are going to need somewhere to go that is not the coronavirus, and virtual spaces will be all they have for a while.

Still, I continue to feel like every social product has a lot more that they can do here. Mitigating the spread of misinformation, and taking steps to intervene directly in the crisis, have been welcome moves. But the period of social isolation that is now crashing down on America will offer a new kind of test for our social networks. And to pass it, we’re all going to need to get creative.

The Ratio

Today in news that could affect public perception of the big tech platforms.

Trending up: . Airbnb, Amazon, Google, and Uber all signed the letter as well.

Trending up: . (Megan Molteni / Wired)

Trending sideways: 6D彩票网开户. The company is trying to balance the needs of travelers with those of hosts who depend on the bookings for income.

Outbreak

The Verge has a nice, constantly evolving guide to the spread of COVID-19.

Amazon is restricting who can sell face masks and hand sanitizer due to coronavirus price gouging. It’s a notable escalation in the company’s fight against coronavirus-related abuse on its platform. (Nick Statt / The Verge)

These popular memes, which all show someone touching their face, are now canceled. (TC Sottek / The Verge)

. (Kimberly Harrington / McSweeney’s)

An essay:

6D彩票网开户?Shannon Keating :

6D彩票网开户I’m paralyzed with guilt and dread over my every move right now: Can I go to the grocery store? What about a friend’s house? In a couple weeks I’m supposed to fly to Florida to visit my dad and my grandmother, neither of whom are in good health; what if I get them sick? (But if I don’t go, what are the chances I never see them again?) Would it be extraordinarily selfish if I get on a plane to reach my girlfriend in the United Kingdom before any more potential travel bans are put in place?

On the misinformation front:

. It seems unfair to focus exclusively on misinformation spread on social networks when the president himself is the source of so many false statements. (Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam / CNN)

. The listings show how little oversight Amazon has implemented on its own platform. (Ben Collins / NBC)

. Some messages look like they’re coming from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Ken Dilanian and Emmanuelle Saliba / NBC)

. The photo, first published on a satirical website, showed Hanks posing with “Wilson” from Cast Away. (David Mack / BuzzFeed)

A dubious list of coronavirus tips is going viral on 6D彩票网开户 and 6D彩票网开户. It claims to be from Stanford University and contains loads of disinformation. (Zoe Schiffer / The Verge)

. The listings have now been taken down. (Kat Tenbarge / Business Insider)

On the office front:

. (Ina Fried / Axios)

. They’re being asked to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, which means less access to office perks. I also miss my office perks btw!! (Blake Montgomery / Daily Beast)

On the events front:

.

. (Bill Shaikin and Jorge Castillo / Los Angeles Times)

. (Julia Reinstein / BuzzFeed)

Elsewhere:

. But if you want to do it, this article tells you how. (Joanna Stern / The Wall Street Journal)

Yesterday we included a link about the coronavirus pandemic hurting travel influencers on Instagram. . Ok then! (Sarah Frier / Bloomberg)

. Who knew the pandemic needed an anthem? (Stacey Ritzen / Daily Dot)

Governing

6D彩票网开户?. The activity had striking similarities to the Russian troll campaign of 2016. CNN’s Clarissa Ward, Katie Polglase, Sebastian Shukla, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Tim Lister report:

One of the accounts even pretended to be the cousin of an African American who died in police custody. The post was then shared to a 6D彩票网开户 group called Africans in the United States. The group told CNN it had no idea that trolls were trying to engage it.

Another also implied they were in the US, tweeting in February: “Just experienced blatant #racism in Downton (sic) Huntsville, Alabama ... Three of my black male friends were turned away because they were ‘out of dress code.’”

There was a concerted effort to agitate in the US. One of the trolls — Black People Trendz — posted to the 6D彩票网开户 page of Black Lives Matter in Cincinnati. Another — @The_black_secret — was devoted to police shootings of African Americans. It also posted a video of a racial incident with the comment “Blacks have a right to defend themselves against Racism” that drew more than 5,000 reactions and more than 2,000 shares.

. That would give 6D彩票网开户, 6D彩票网开户, and Google more power over the election than ever before. (Rob Price / Business Insider)

6D彩票网开户. (Makena Kelly / 6D彩票网开户)

. “This is what the totalitarian face of the world’s largest democracy looks like under the surface,” one person remarked. (Pranav Dixit / BuzzFeed)

Industry

?6D彩票网开户 contractors are being told to continue coming into the office even as full-time employees work from home, . This is a very tricky one: let contractors work from home and you dramatically increase the odds that users’ private information will be stolen.

Discussions from 6D彩票网开户’s internal employee forum reviewed by The Intercept reveal a state of confusion, fear, and resentment, with precariously employed hourly contract workers stating that, contrary to statements to them from 6D彩票网开户, they are barred by their actual employers from working from home, despite the technical feasibility and clear public health benefits of doing so.

Discussions from 6D彩票网开户’s internal employee forum reviewed by The Intercept reveal a state of confusion, fear, and resentment, with precariously employed hourly contract workers stating that, contrary to statements to them from 6D彩票网开户, they are barred by their actual employers from working from home, despite the technical feasibility and clear public health benefits of doing so.

. Some members are leaving to start a new collective. (Hanna Lustig / Business Insider)

. It’s part of a concerted strategy for the youth-friendly app to get a major foothold in the world’s youngest continent. (Alexandria Williams / Quartz)

. She now has 1 million followers. (Connor Perrett / Business Insider)

. (Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh / Reuters)

. The features are part of Brizzly+’s subscription service which offers a robust toolset built on the 6D彩票网开户 API. Unusually, 6D彩票网开户 publicly endorsed Brizzly, years after telling developers to stop building clients that replicate core features of the service. (Sarah Perez / TechCrunch)

6D彩票网开户. It’s gauging interest from companies including 6D彩票网开户 and Johnson & Johnson. If you want to buy it let me know and I’ll talk you out of it. (Ed Hammond and Sarah Frier / Bloomberg)

And finally...

Talk to us

Send us tips, comments, questions, and honestly just stay safe this weekend, we’re worried about you! casey@theverge.com and zoe@theverge.com.

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