Facebook is continuing to rollout new features in response to the coronavirus epidemic, this time in an expansion of its Community Health center. Community Health first launched in 2017 as a way for people to help each other after natural or man-made disasters. Now, users can utilize it to request or offer help as mass social distancing is in effect.
It'll roll out over the next few days in the U.S., U.K., France, Australia, and Canada. More countries are set to follow over the coming weeks.
Where to access — Community Health can be accessed directly right here, as well as through the COVID-19 Information Center atop the News Feed. Filters within the feature will allow users to filter types of requests (e.g. food, baby supplies, etc.) and distance. For those looking to help health workers, fundraisers are highlighted at the top of the section's feed.
Facebook's other measures — Last week, Facebook announced a $100 million initiative to support journalism during the pandemic. $75 million of it will go toward marketing for international news organizations, with the other $25 going to local outlets. The first round of grants will go to 50 local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada.
The COVID-19 Information Center, also launched last week, is an effort to combat misinformation by highlighting trustworthy news. It appears in both the News Feed and Messenger, where traffic has increased by 50 percent and messaging has doubled. If someone sends you a dubious coronavirus remedy, the real answers are right there in sight.
Prognosis — Together, these initiatives should make a difference, despite not acting as a cure-all. Fake news has become Facebook's whack-a-mole, but it's nice to see the company realize what an important moment this is for reliable information. Social media has also been an outlet for users to offer their assistance, and an official space will make it that much easier.
But frankly, it'll take more than $100 million to fix the damage both the coronavirus and Facebook have done to journalism.