Caroline Goldstein
April 01, 2020 12:54 pm
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In the thick of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we’re all seeking ways we can safely help those most in need—and ask for help when we need it ourselves. Facebook is trying to make that easier. Yesterday, March 31st, Facebook rolled out Community Help, a new feature in which you and other people in your area can request and offer assistance.

Scanning through today, the feed is full of people offering to make a grocery run for those who are sick or elderly, people offering their own medical supplies to others, women donating extra baby formula to others, and just neighbors offering to chat with people experiencing loneliness while they self-quarantine or self-isolate. You can request help if you need it, or you can reach out to offer any myriad ways that neighbors can support each other right now.

The feature is an expansion of Facebook’s existing Community Help center, which it first debuted in a few countries in 2017 as a way for people to provide aid in the wake of manmade and natural disasters. But this is the first time the feature is targeted toward a health crisis, and it’s the first time it will be available across the globe.

Community Help is one aspect of Facebook’s multi-pronged effort to “keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis.”

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Now, Community Help lives in Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Center (or you can also access the hub directly right here). The information center “connects people to credible information” aggregated across news platforms and other official sources. While there, users can also make contributions to the United Nations Foundation COVID-19 Fundraiser for WHO and the CDC Foundation Combat Coronavirus fund. Facebook is matching contributions to both funds up to $10 million.

In addition to Community Help, Facebook is working to provide users with safety tips issued by health authorities, contact information for health organizations, and local Facebook groups that help you stay connected. The company reports that it’s launching a $1 million grant program to support fact-checkers and have banned exploitative ads that intend to stoke panic “or imply that their products guarantee a cure or prevent people from contracting [coronavirus],” among other tactics.

Facebook will be rolling out its Community Help update in the US, UK, France, Australia, and Canada over the next few days, and it’s planning to make it available in more countries over the following weeks.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, HelloGiggles is committed to providing accurate and helpful coverage to our readers. As such, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, we encourage you to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments, and visit our coronavirus hub.