WhatsApp has seen a 40 percent increase in usage due to the COVID-19 spread, according to a report based on a market survey, compared to the previous period. The instant messaging app is found to have received the “greatest gains” in usage among other social media apps, with a 27 percent increase noticed in the early phase of the pandemic. Usage of overall social media engagement also increased by 61 percent over normal usage rates during the coronavirus outbreak. However, Web browsing increased by a whopping 70 percent, followed by traditional TV viewing growing by 63 percent.

Consulting firm Kantar conducted the survey on more than 25,000 consumers across 30 markets between March 14 and 24 that shows the success of WhatsApp during the coronavirus outbreak. Usage of the app grew from 27 percent initially in the early phase to 41 percent in the mid-phase of the pandemic. For countries that were in the later phase of the outbreak, WhatsApp usage has grown by 51 percent.

Time spent on WhatsApp is also found to have increased remarkably in some markets. The report highlights Spain in that case where a 76 percent increase of time spent on the app was noticed during the pandemic.

In addition to WhatsApp, overall Facebook usage has increased 37 percent. The growth in usage across all messaging apps has been the largest in the 18-34 age group, the survey revealed. It has also been noticed that WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram have all seen an over 50 percent increase in usage from under-35-year-olds. Moreover, China, from where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated, experienced a 58 percent increase in usage of local social media apps including WeChat and Weibo.

The survey also highlighted that despite being popular, social media apps are still not a trusted source for getting latest news and updates for many users. Instead, traditional news channels and newspapers were still identified as a “trustworthy” source for 52 percent of people, while only 11 percent of the survey size found social media platforms as a source of trustworthy information.

“Government agency websites are regarded as trustworthy by only 48 percent of people, suggesting that government measures are not providing citizens around the world with assurances and security,” the report said.

Earlier this week, Facebook also released its internal data that showed doubled the usage on both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Menlo Park, California-based company claimed that it had seen up to 70 percent more time spent across all its apps since the coronavirus outbreak reached the US in January.

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