Social media and apps are helping people in self-isolation connect with neighbours and strangers. Image by Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS


Tech links those in isolation near and far

2020-03-25 19:05:17

As communities worldwide shut down to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the tech industry is finding ways to bring people together while self-isolating.

Social media has been criticised for spreading misinformation about coronavirus, but platforms old and new are connecting people across the world and across the road.

Nextdoor is an app designed to bring neighbourhoods together and provide a way for people to post jobs, safety tips or event information within the community.

It is now becoming a way for neighbours to check on each other and provide help during self-isolation.

Members have offered to drop off toilet paper, sanitary products and food to those in need, with some simply offering virtual company.

Monash University student Victoria Vassallo from Melbourne offered to give sanitary items to anybody needing them, as toilet paper and other products were stripped from shelves.

“People are finally starting to think less about themselves and more about others,” Ms Vassallo told AAP.

Local communities on traditional social media platforms are also banding together to help one another online through groups such as Love Your Neighbour Melbourne on Facebook.

The group was set up as Victorians started to feel the impact of the coronavirus and already has nearly 7000 members.

Their work includes volunteering to safely support the community and sharing essential items.

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have had increases in traffic as more people go into quarantine.

“Calling has more than doubled for Messenger and WhatsApp year-over-year in places most impacted by the virus, like in Italy,” a statement from Facebook said.

The impact of the coronavirus has prompted dating app Tinder to drop charges for its Passport feature so users across the world can speak, no longer dictated by distance.

“Tinder’s hope is that members can use the Passport feature to transport themselves out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world,” a spokesperson said. 

“They can check in on people in their home town or sister city, and find those across the world who are going through the same things.”