Snapchat has announced that it will launch its "Here For You" feature ahead of schedule due to the spread of the panic caused by the novel coronavirus.
"Here For You, which will roll out in the coming months, will show safety resources from local experts when Snapchatters search for certain topics, including those related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying," the company wrote in a February blog post.
Everyone knew about the coronavirus outbreak even two months ago, but since then, the situation has changed dramatically. The new virus has affected many countries, not only China. The mental health of many people has deteriorated because of the panic caused by the new disease. Therefore, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Snapchat announced on Thursday that it would launch the "Here For You" feature in April.
"In addition, we are building out a customized search section of Here For You related to coronavirus that will provide Snapchatters from the Ad Council, World Health Organization, the CDC, Crisis Text Line, NHS, and other partners who are creating content on anxiety specifically related to coronavirus," a Snap spokesperson announced.
However, despite the addition of "coronavirus" to the key search terms in "Here For You," the feature still has a significant disadvantage. There are still not enough terms related to eating disorders, including "anorexia," "bulimia," "thinspiration," "thinspo," and "pro-ana."
This is a significant oversight, especially considering criticism towards Snapchat regarding the company’s attitude to body image. In December 2019, researchers found that teens that use social media platforms with a lot of pictures (like Snapchat) are more prone to eating disorders than teens that use other platforms.
"Social media seems to encourage young people to focus strongly on their appearance and the way it is judged or perceived by others," said Dr. Simon Wilksch, a Senior Research Fellow in Psychology at Australia's Flinders University.
Only time will tell whether Snapchat will focus more on eating disorders-related content in the future or not.