Research Proposal

Social Network Usage and Sex during COVID-19


Understand social network usage during COVID-19 in the popular networks of SnapChat, Tindr, Grindr, Twitter, and Facebook by comparing before and after numbers like new users, active users, or a change in the frequency of sexual words and hashtags.

Early Findings


  • Twitter said that their total monetizable daily active users (mDAU) grew by 23% in March to 164 million quarter-to-date, mostly driven by conversation about the outbreak.
  • On April 9, a study showed that there had been a 384% increase in tweets mentioning "nudes" and "dick pics" along with the term "coronavirus" versus a month ago.
  • There had also been an increase in sex-related emojis. The eggplant and peach emojis both saw a rise. Peach emojis increased by 46%.


  • Grindr has gone further than similar social networks like Scruff by pinning an alert. They talk about how physical isolation doesn't mean social isolation and encourage users to follow WHO guidelines and practice proper distancing.
  • While initial research has no statistics on Grindr usage, Scruff says usage has been stable during this time.


  • Instagram has increased its users in the US by 3.7% in March vs. February. This is the equivalent of 4.4m users, for a total of 124.2m active users. Leading up to February, numbers had been relatively fixed.
  • Instagram stories saw a 15% increase.
  • Instagram has relaxed its standards on banning sexual content as they currently lack moderators. Per their statement, they are only reviewing content that has the most potential for harm. This is likely to lead to more sexual content on the platform.


  • Facebook usage is booming. Messaging is up by 50% and video calling (including Whatsapp) has doubled in some areas that have been hard-hit by the virus.
  • Usage in the US increased by 2.5% in the US in March vs. February, which seems small but is equal to 5.7m users. Leading up to February, numbers had been decreasing.
  • More people are also using the Stories and Posts functions to get updates on how family and friends are doing.
Prepared By
Katherine D.
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