Facebook is supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis. We’re also working to address the long-term impacts by supporting industries in need and making it easier for people to find and offer help in their communities.
Here’s an overview of how we’re providing access to accurate information, supporting relief efforts and keeping people connected. We’ll continue to add to this post as we announce updates.
1. Ensuring everyone has access to accurate information and removing harmful content
2. Supporting health and economic relief efforts
3. Keeping people connected
Update on April 2, 2020 at 4:25PM PT:
Helping Small Businesses
Today we’re sharing an update on our efforts to help small businesses get through this challenging time. These include:
- Updates to Our $100 Million Small Business Grants Program: We will give $40 million in the US, which will provide grants to 10,000 businesses. We’re working with Ureeka, a third-party partner to distribute these grants starting in the 34 locations where our employees live and work. Businesses can go to facebook.com/grantsforbusiness to see eligibility criteria, and applications will open in the US next week.
- Gift Cards: We’re making it easier for people to support their favorite local businesses with digital gift cards on Facebook, which are beginning to roll out today in the US. People will see the option to support local businesses with digital gift cards in their News Feed. Businesses interested in promoting their gift cards can learn how to sign up with one of our partners. We’re also working on offering gift cards on Instagram.
- Fundraising: Starting today, business owners can create a personal fundraiser on Facebook for their business and ask customers for support during this critical time.
- Temporary Service Changes: To help businesses inform their customers about temporary changes, like different operating hours or delivery options during this time, we’re making it possible for businesses to announce temporary service changes on their Facebook Page and in searches on Facebook.
Making It Easier for People to Request or Offer Help in Their Communities
Today we’re announcing Community Help, a place for people to request or offer help to neighbors, such as volunteering to deliver groceries or donating to a local food pantry or fundraiser. You can access Community Help in the COVID-19 Information Center on Facebook or by visiting facebook.com/covidsupport. We’re starting to roll it out in the US, the UK, France, Australia and Canada in the next few days, and we’re working to bring it to more countries in the coming weeks.
Update on March 30, 2020 at 1:40PM PT:
Donating $25 Million to Support Healthcare Workers
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are live with Governor Gavin Newsom to talk about California’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ll discuss the urgent need for more healthcare workers and Facebook’s $25 million donation to help support healthcare workers on the front line.
Update on March 30, 2020 at 6:00AM PT:
Investing $100 Million in the News Industry
The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we’re announcing an additional $100-million investment to support journalists — including $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and an extra $75 million in marketing to get money to publishers around the world at a time when their advertising revenue is declining.
This investment is in addition to the support we’ve already pledged to the news industry in response to COVID-19: $1 million in grants for local news, $1 million in grants for fact-checking organizations, and a $1-million donation to the International Fact-Checking Network.
Update on March 26, 2020 at 1:00PM PT:
Launching the Messenger Coronavirus Community Hub
Today, we’re launching the Messenger Coronavirus Community Hub with tips and resources to keep people connected to their friends, family, colleagues and community, and prevent the spread of misinformation. It also includes advice on how to recognize and avoid scams and misinformation online. Read more about how you can use Messenger to stay connected and informed during this time.
Update on March 26, 2020 at 9:00AM PT:
Helping Young People Safely Navigate the Internet
Today we’re launching our digital literacy program, Get Digital, to provide lessons and resources to help young people develop the competencies and skills they need to more safely navigate the internet. These resources are designed to be used by educators and families both in the classroom and at home, but they’ve become even more important as young people spend more time on their devices while at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Get Digital will help young people learn how to:
- Stay safe online and protect their personal information
- Navigate content and information, and evaluate the trustworthiness of a source
- Build positive and inclusive communities online by being kind and respecting others
- Manage their health and wellbeing by learning how to monitor emotions and develop healthy habits for when to use technology
It will also help them discover how technology can be used for civic and political engagement. And it can help them develop digital skills, such as understanding algorithms, and explore programming and more to help prepare them for future careers in technology.
We’re partnering with UNESCO, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), National PTA, and EVERFI to distribute our new digital literacy tools to parents and educators around the world. Lessons are drawn from the Youth and Media team at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, which has made them freely available worldwide under a Creative Commons license, and the Greater Good Science Center.
Update on March 26, 2020 at 7:15AM PT:
Sharing Tips for People Working Remotely
Remote work can be challenging whether you’re balancing caregiving and work, trying to lead a dispersed team, or adjusting to a new routine and responsibilities. That’s why we created an online resource with tips to help our global team stay connected, be productive and do their best work, wherever they’re working. We’re sharing it publicly today in case it’s helpful to others as many adjust to working remotely during this challenging time. Check out our remote work resources.
Update on March 25, 2020 at 9:57AM PT:
Combating COVID-19 Misinformation Across Our Apps
Today we shared an overview of how we’re connecting people to reliable information and taking aggressive steps to combat COVID-19 misinformation across our apps.
Update on March 24, 2020 at 1:30PM PT:
Keeping Our Apps Stable and Reliable
As more people around the world are physically distancing themselves from others, we’ve seen people using our apps more than ever. Today, we shared some data to give context on the load we’re managing. Our apps were built to withstand spikes, but the usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry. We’re monitoring usage patterns carefully, making our systems more efficient and adding capacity when needed, and we’re doing everything we can to keep our apps stable and reliable during this time.
Update on March 24, 2020 at 6:00AM PT:
Helping People Stay Informed and Connected on Instagram
Today we announced updates to help people stay informed, safe and connected on Instagram during this challenging time. These include:
- Adding more educational resources in Instagram Search
- Adding stickers to promote accurate information
- Removing COVID-19 content and accounts from recommendations, unless posted by a credible health organization
- Rolling out the donation sticker in more countries and helping people find relevant nonprofits to support
- Creating a shared story to help those practicing social distancing connect with others, using a “Stay Home” sticker
- Launching a new way to browse Instagram with friends over video chat
Update on March 23, 2020 at 12:01AM PT:
Helping Government Health Organizations Use Messenger
Today we’re announcing two initiatives to help government health organizations in their response to the coronavirus outbreak using Messenger.
- We’re connecting government health organizations and UN health agencies with our developer partners who will help them use Messenger most effectively to scale their response to COVID-19. Our developer partners will provide their services for free, showing these critical organizations how to use Messenger to share timely information with local communities and speed up their replies to commonly asked questions with tools like automated responses.
- We’re also starting an online hackathon and inviting developers to build messaging solutions that address issues related to the coronavirus such as social distancing and access to accurate information. Participants will receive unique access to Messenger tools and content as well as educational materials from Facebook to support their innovation. And the winners will get mentoring from Facebook engineers to help make their idea a reality.
Read more about how we’re leveraging Messenger’s reach, tools and technology to help people stay connected and informed during this time.
Update on March 20, 2020 at 2:45PM PT:
Launching the WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp
Today we launched the World Health Organization’s Health Alert on WhatsApp. The WHO Health Alert is free to use and will answer common questions about COVID-19. It provides timely, reliable information about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as well as travel advice, coronavirus myth debunking and more. To contact the WHO Health Alert, save the number +41 79 893 1892 in your phone contacts and then text the word ‘Hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started. The service is initially launching in English but will be available in all six United Nations languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish) within the coming weeks.
It’s an honor to work with @WHO to provide this simple service to get the latest information directly from the experts right on WhatsApp. Tap the link below to get started. Share these tips and de-bunked rumors with your friends and family
— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) March 20, 2020
Update on March 19, 2020 at 7:22PM PT:
Keeping Our Platform Safe With Remote and Reduced Content Review
We recently announced that we’re temporarily sending content reviewers home. We want to make sure our platform remains a safe place for people to connect during this time, but with a reduced and remote workforce, below are some ways our content review processes will be impacted.
Policy Enforcement: We will continue to enforce our policies and prioritize preventing and disrupting harm across our platform. We are conducting human rights due diligence, looking at potential risks, and putting in place contingency plans that both prioritize the safety of our content reviewers and support the integrity of our platform. As Mark Zuckerberg discussed on a press call, for example, we have shifted certain content review work to full time employees and are focusing on areas including child safety, terrorism, suicide and self-injury, and harmful content related to COVID-19.
Some contract reviewers will work from home, but with a reduced and remote workforce, we will now rely more on our automated systems to detect and remove violating content and disable accounts. As a result, we expect to make more mistakes, and reviews will take longer than normal, but we will continue to monitor how our systems are performing and make adjustments. In addition, reviewing content can be challenging, and working from home presents new obstacles in providing support to our teams, but we’re working to ensure our content reviewers have the resources and help they need during this time.
User Reports: When people report content to us that they believe violates our policies, they will see a new message letting them know that we have fewer content reviewers available and will prioritize reported content that has the greatest potential to harm our community. This means some reports will not be reviewed as quickly as they used to be and we will not get to some reports at all.
Appeals: Normally when we remove content, we offer the person who posted it the option to request that we review the content again if they think we made a mistake. Now, given our reduced workforce, we’ll give people the option to tell us that they disagree with our decision and we’ll monitor that feedback to improve our accuracy, but we likely won’t review content a second time.
We’re working hard to minimize any impact on people as they use Facebook, Instagram and Messenger during this time, but we know some may feel this impact either when reporting content to us or appealing content we remove.
We’re doing everything we can to keep our global teams and the community that uses our apps safe while continuing to provide the services people and businesses rely on.
Update on March 19, 2020 at 4:12PM PT:
Getting Expert Health Tips and Information From Dr. Fauci
Mark Zuckerberg is live with Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert involved in leading our government’s response to COVID-19. They’ll discuss how we can all help fight the spread of the coronavirus and what governments are doing to respond to the pandemic.
Update on March 19, 2020 at 2:18PM PT:
Banning Ads for Hand Sanitizer, Disinfecting Wipes and COVID-19 Testing Kits
In addition to masks, we’re now also banning ads and commerce listings for hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits. And if we see people selling these products in organic posts on Facebook or Instagram, we’ll remove them.
We’ll be ramping up our automated enforcement for ads and commerce next week. If we see abuse around these products in organic posts, we’ll remove those, too (2/2)
— Rob Leathern (@robleathern) March 19, 2020
Update on March 18, 2020 at 6:01PM PT:
Minimizing Disruptions for Businesses and Partners on Our Platform
As we announced on Monday, we’re working with our partners to send home all contract workers who perform content review, until further notice. Since this includes people who review ads and monetized content, we wanted to share more about what this means for advertisers, publishers and creators that use our tools.
We use a combination of people and technology to review ads on Facebook and Instagram, and our automated systems already play a big role in that process. Now with a reduced and remote workforce, we’re relying on automated technology even more. This may mean:
- Delayed review for ads and commerce listings
- An increase in ads being incorrectly disapproved
- Delayed or reduced appeals
- More limited availability of Facebook in-stream ads and lower delivery
For Content Creators and Publishers
All monetized content goes through brand safety reviews. This includes Instant Articles and videos with in-stream ads. Since our ability to review new content is now limited, we won’t be able to approve all content for monetization. We’re working on how to support partners at this time.
As this situation continues to evolve, we may need to make further changes to our systems. While we’re working to minimize disruptions for businesses and partners, we will inevitably make mistakes. We will do our best to address any issues as quickly as we can and continue to provide updates.
Update on March 18, 2020 at 2:30PM PT:
Press Call Recap
This morning on a press call, Mark Zuckerberg shared how we’re supporting people and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak and how we’re working with health authorities to make sure everyone can access accurate information. He also announced a new Coronavirus Information Center on Facebook to help people find information and tips, and he shared how we’re giving governments and emergency services around the world free access to Workplace. Read the full transcript from his press call.
Update on March 18, 2020 at 11:12AM PT:
Offering Workplace to Government and Emergency Organizations for Free
Starting today, we’re offering Workplace Advanced to government agencies and emergency services free of charge for 12 months. These organizations play a vital role during the coronavirus outbreak, whether it’s acting as first responders or coordinating public information. Workplace can help inform and connect their employees, allowing them to share critical information in real-time and enabling leadership to reach employees via live videos, posts and more. Read more about how we’re supporting emergency services and government organizations during this time.
Update on March 18, 2020 at 11:06AM PT:
Launching the Coronavirus Information Center on Facebook
Today we’re announcing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center, featured at the top of News Feed, to provide a central place for people to get the latest news and information as well as resources and tips to stay healthy and support their family and community.
It includes real-time updates from national health authorities and global organizations such as the World Health Organization, as well as helpful articles, videos and posts about social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
People can also follow the Coronavirus Information Center to receive updates from health authorities directly in their News Feed. And starting in the US, people will see features to help them connect with local groups and ask for or offer help within their community.
We’re rolling out the information center in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US within the next 24 hours, and we’ll expand it to more countries in the coming days.
Update on March 18, 2020 at 7:56AM PT:
Helping People Stay Connected Using WhatsApp
In these uncertain times, reliable communication is critical. That’s why we’ve nearly doubled server capacity for WhatsApp and continue to see strong reliability as people place more voice and video calls around the world. In addition, today we launched an information hub with tips on how healthcare workers, educators and local businesses can stay connected using WhatsApp. We also donated $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to expand the presence of local fact-checkers on WhatsApp.
We’re grateful to @who @undp @unicef for coordinating the response to this crisis including using @WhatsApp to do so. Already several ministries of health are providing updates to citizens on WhatsApp and we will expand these services together.
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) March 18, 2020
Update on March 17, 2020 at 6:15AM PT:
Supporting Fact-Checkers and Local News Organizations
To support fact-checkers in their work around COVID-19, we’re partnering with The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to launch a $1 million grant program to increase their capacity during this time.
We’re also supporting local news organizations as they deal with unexpected costs of covering COVID-19 and provide increased coverage during this time. To help, the Facebook Journalism Project is partnering with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to offer a total of $1 million in grants to local news organizations covering COVID-19 in the US and Canada.
Update on March 17, 2020 at 6:00AM PT:
Investing $100 Million in Small Businesses
We’re creating a $100 million grant program to help small businesses around the world impacted by the coronavirus.
Update on March 16, 2020 at 8:46PM PT:
Keeping Our People and Our Platforms Safe
To keep our people safe, we recently requested that anyone who can work from home do so in all of our offices around the world. We are also continuing to take the necessary steps to keep our platform safe.
Over the past couple of years we’ve substantially scaled up our investments in safety and security, including by rapidly growing content review teams and expanding our machine learning capabilities. For both our full-time employees and contract workforce there is some work that cannot be done from home due to safety, privacy and legal reasons. We have taken precautions to protect our workers by cutting down the number of people in any given office, implementing recommended work from home globally, physically spreading people out at any given office and doing additional cleaning. Given the rapidly evolving public health concerns, we are taking additional steps to protect our teams and will be working with our partners over the course of this week to send all contract workers who perform content review home, until further notice. We’ll ensure that all workers are paid during this time.
We believe the investments we’ve made over the past three years have prepared us for this situation. With fewer people available for human review we’ll continue to prioritize imminent harm and increase our reliance on proactive detection in other areas to remove violating content. We don’t expect this to impact people using our platform in any noticeable way. That said, there may be some limitations to this approach and we may see some longer response times and make more mistakes as a result.
These are unprecedented times, but the safety and security of our platform will continue. We are grateful to all of our teams working hard to continue doing the essential work to keep our community safe.
Update on March 16, 2020 at 5PM PT:
Working With Industry Partners
Joint industry statement from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube
“We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Update on March 13, 2020 at 10:10AM PT:
Matching $20 Million in Donations to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts
We’re matching $20 million in donations to support COVID-19 relief efforts.
Update on March 13, 2020 at 9:30AM PT:
Connecting People With Credible Health Information on Instagram
We shared updates on our efforts to support the Instagram community during this time.
To help people get relevant and up-to-date resources, we will start showing more information from @WHO and local health ministries at the top of Instagram’s Feed in some countries. pic.twitter.com/czAHYItlEx
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 13, 2020
To thank the health workers who have been working tirelessly to keep their communities safe, we developed a sticker for people to show their gratitude on Instagram. This will be available in the stickers gallery. pic.twitter.com/BS5IKAWBuL
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 13, 2020
Supporting Businesses and Community Leaders
To help people stay safe and informed during the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re providing additional resources to our community. We shared a blog post on our Community Hub to provide accurate information on disease prevention and connect community leaders with tools to help them manage their community. We also created a Business Resource Hub that includes tips and trainings to help businesses navigate challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak and support their customers during this time.
Expanding Access to Facebook Local Alerts
In addition, we’re helping local governments and emergency response organizations more easily communicate with their communities. As COVID-19 has spread in the US, local governments have used Facebook to share critical information with their communities about this fast evolving situation. Because of the increasing need to get timely and accurate information to local communities, we’re expanding access to Facebook local alerts to even more municipal governments, state and local emergency response organizations and law enforcement agencies. State and local public health agencies will now also have the ability to push out timely, accurate information to their local communities. And we’ll provide additional training to partners as they start using local alerts to share best practices for using the tool most effectively.
Eligible organizations and government agencies can request access to the local alerts tool here.
Update on March 6, 2020 at 6:25PM PT:
Banning Ads and Commerce Listings for Medical Face Masks
We are temporarily banning advertisements and commerce listings, like those on Marketplace, that sell medical face masks. We’ll begin to enforce this change over the next few days. We already prohibit people from making health or medical claims related to the coronavirus in product listings on commerce surfaces, including those listings that guarantee a product will prevent someone from contracting it. We also have a dedicated channel for local governments to share listings they believe violate local laws. Our teams are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency.
Update: We’re banning ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks. We’re monitoring COVID19 closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency. We’ll start rolling out this change in the days ahead.
— Rob Leathern (@robleathern) March 7, 2020
Update on March 6, 2020 at 10:52AM PT:
Removing COVID-19 Misinformation on Instagram
Today we shared updates about the changes we’ve made to keep the Instagram community safe and informed on COVID-19.
We’re removing known harmful misinformation related to COVID-19, and when someone taps on a hashtag related to COVID-19, we show resources from @WHO, @CDC and local health authorities. pic.twitter.com/Dw2Y8ZwfaI
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 6, 2020
Finally, we’re thinking through a longer term solution to help connect people searching COVID-19 related terms with credible information. In the meantime, we’re showing the accounts of leading health organizations in these searches to better connect people to credible resources. pic.twitter.com/RUNwJh94Cf
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 6, 2020
Update on March 3, 2020 at 7:05PM PT:
Supporting Global Health Organizations With Free Ads and More
CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the latest steps Facebook is taking.
Update on February 26, 2020 at 7:13PM PT:
As world health officials issue new guidance and warnings about coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re continuing our work to connect people to information from regional and local health organizations and limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus.
Connecting People to Accurate Information and Helpful Resources
Anyone who searches for information related to the virus on Facebook is shown educational pop-ups on top of search results connecting them to expert health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO). We’ve launched these globally over the last few weeks in all languages on Facebook, directing people to the WHO. In several countries we are directing people to their local ministry of health. For example, in the US we are directing people to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in Singapore, we’re directing people to the Singapore Ministry of Health. Moreover, in countries where the WHO has reported person-to-person transmission and deaths, we’ve shown additional messages to people toward the top of News Feed with more information.
Exploitative Tactics in Ads
Yesterday we put a new policy into effect to protect people from those trying to exploit this emergency for financial gain. This means we are now prohibiting ads for products that refer to the coronavirus in ways intended to create a panic or imply that their products guarantee a cure or prevent people from contracting it. For example, ads for face masks that imply they are the only ones still available or claim that they are guaranteed to prevent the virus from spreading will not be allowed to run on our platforms.
Originally published on January 30, 2020 at 5:40PM PT:
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. As the global public health community works to keep people safe, Facebook is supporting their work in several ways, most especially by working to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus and connecting people to helpful information. Here are some specific steps we are taking.
Limiting Misinformation and Harmful Content
Our global network of third-party fact-checkers are continuing their work reviewing content and debunking false claims that are spreading related to the coronavirus. When they rate information as false, we limit its spread on Facebook and Instagram and show people accurate information from these partners. We also send notifications to people who already shared or are trying to share this content to alert them that it’s been fact-checked.
We will also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. We are doing this as an extension of our existing policies to remove content that could cause physical harm. We’re focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can.
Providing Helpful Information and Support
Our platforms are already being used to help people connect with accurate information about the situation, including from global and regional health organizations. We’ve been closely coordinating with leading health organizations to make this easier and more accessible for people using Facebook and Instagram.
For example, we will help people get relevant and up-to-date information from partners through messages on top of News Feed on Facebook; these will be deployed based on guidance from the WHO. When people search for information related to the virus on Facebook or tap a related hashtag on Instagram, we will surface an educational pop-up with credible information. We have also provided free advertising credits to enable organizations to run coronavirus education campaigns on Facebook and Instagram in affected regions and are discussing ways to provide additional assistance and support to health authorities.
Empowering Partners with Data Tools
We are empowering leading researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan by sharing aggregated and anonymized mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread of the virus as part of our broader Data for Good program. We may expand these efforts to a broader set of partners in the coming weeks. We are also helping partners understand how people are talking about the issue online through tools like CrowdTangle to better inform their efforts.
Not all of these steps are fully in place. It will take some time to roll them out across our platforms and step up our enforcement methods.
We will provide updates on additional steps we are taking in coordination with global and regional partners as the situation continues to evolve.
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