Snapchat's New Social Distance Filter Helps You Visualize How Close Is Too Close

by Syeda Khaula Saad
Courtesy of Snapchat

According to a March 2020 consumption survey by Statista, 32% of U.S. respondents claimed to be using social media more amidst the coronavirus pandemic. It makes sense that social media companies would take this into consideration, and one platform doing its part is Snapchat. Collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO), Snapchat introduced new filters that encourage social distancing and provide coronavirus safety tips.

The first Snapchat filter features WHO-approved animations about how to protect yourself against coronavirus. They include "Wash your hands regularly," "Don't touch your face," "Cover your cough," and "Stay home. Practice social distancing." Accompanying these tips are animated drawings of hand washing, a face mask, and things you can do at home like meditating, completing puzzles, and reading.

The second filter gives you an idea of how far away you should stay from other people while social distancing. When you use the filter, semi-circle patterns show up on your screen to demonstrate the minimum amount of space there should be between you and anyone in front of you. That being said, the filter is marked with the words, "Educational purposes only," and it's important to remember that you should stay home and away from crowds as consistently as possible.

Courtesy of Snapchat

These Snapchat filters are based off of information that the WHO has been regularly updating on its official site. According to the organization, people should maintain 3 feet of distance between themselves and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. "When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus," WHO says on its coronavirus advice page. "If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease." The site also includes other information summarized within the Snapchat filters, including how to wash your hands correctly, why you should avoid touching any part of your face, and how to practice safe hygiene.

In a "Safety First" press release published on March 24, Snapchat stated that it believes that its users can play a vital role in stopping the spread of coronavirus through proper information and social media. The company is also practicing social distancing within its own team.

Courtesy of Snapchat

In the meantime, Snapchat will continue to work with the WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep users updated on news about the coronavirus pandemic. You can check out the WHO's and CDC's official Snapchat accounts for more information. Additionally, Snapchat pointed out that "more than three dozen of these partners are producing constant coverage on COVID-19, including NBC News’ “StayTuned”, The Washington Post, SkyNews, The Telegraph, Le Monde, VG, Brut India, and Sabq."

The newest social distancing filters, which rolled out at midnight on April 1, are just one component of a bigger push to keep users informed during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone with a Snapchat account should be able to access the filters the same way they would any other one through the filter carousel at the bottom of the screen.