Facebook launched the Coronavirus Community Hub on Messenger, which aims to provide people with tips and resources regarding the new coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, while preventing the propagation of misinformation.
In a blog post announcing the new community hub, VP of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky revealed that the messaging service has seen increased usage as people keep in touch with their loved ones. Chudnovsky said that 70% more people are participating in group video calls, and the time that people spend in group video calls has doubled.
Staying connected to loved ones and communities is part of the focus of the Coronavirus Community Hub, which offers ways for parents to help their children stay connected with their friends, for business to stay connected with their customers, and or educators to stay connected with their colleagues and the parents of their students.
The community hub also warns people against scammers who are taking advantage of these difficult times to cause harm to others. The community hub provides tips to spot and avoid scams, and precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus.
Additionally, Messenger created a program that will connect government health organizations with its developers to help them create a presence in the service, and to set up automated responses to common inquiries.
Facebook vs. coronavirus
The increased usage in Messenger mirrors the massive surge of activity on Facebook and its other platforms. In response to the sudden surge of usage, Facebook’s Alex Schultz, vice president of analytics, and Jay Parikh, VP of engineering, said that the social network is adding capacity while temporarily reducing bit rates for videos in certain regions.
Similar to Messenger’s Coronavirus Community Hub, Facebook also has a Coronavirus Information Center, which sources updates from the World Health Organization and other health authorities and other organizations.
In February, Facebook hosted a meeting, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), that had the goal of stopping the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19. Present at the meeting were representatives of Amazon, Google, and Twitter, among several other companies, and they shared ideas about how to deal with fake news. WHO’s Andy Pattison offered to help the tech firms in fact-checking information posted on their respective platforms.
For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.