Apart from WhatsApp, Facebook too will be putting a coronavirus information center at the top of everyone's Facebook feed. This initative will first be rolled out in the US and Europe, and globally shortly after. The goal, said Facebook, is to put authoritative information from organisations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in front of everyone who uses Facebook's services, as well as prominent links to the websites of those organisations.
Meanwhile, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has launched an Information Hub that dishes out tips on how healthcare workers, educators and local businesses can stay connected using the WhatsApp platform. The messaging app also donated US$1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to expand the presence of local fact-checkers on WhatsApp. Addressing these new initiatives was Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, who said in these uncertain times, reliable communication is critical and that WhatsApp has nearly doubled server capacity. In a press call, Zuckerberg also said that people rely on social and communication services more than ever due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Hence, it is crucial that individuals are fed with accurate and quality information about the situation at hand.
Separately, Facebook is also setting aside US$100 million cash grants to help 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries where its employees live and work. Among the list of countries Facebook is present in include Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a Facebook post that it also aims to make it easier for businesses everywhere to find help and receive training and support from Facebook's teams. As such, it has made its Business Hub readily available for businesses. The Business Hub is a resource for Facebook employees and health experts. Additionally, it is also putting together new virtual training to support businesses operating amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, the social media giant has also started banning ads and commerce listings for masks, hand sanitiser, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 testing kits. Facebook has pledged that organic posts on Facebook and Instagram selling these products will be removed. Rob Leathern, director of product management at Facebook said in a tweet that this is another step to help protect against inflated prices and predatory behaviour. "We’ll be ramping up our automated enforcement for ads and commerce soon. If we see abuse around these products in organic posts, we'll remove those, too," he added.