Facebook feature lets people reach out for help in pandemic

File: Facebook is already involved in e-commerce, with a Marketplace for selling goods and as a venue where businesses court customers through pages at the social network or Instagram.

File: Facebook is already involved in e-commerce, with a Marketplace for selling goods and as a venue where businesses court customers through pages at the social network or Instagram.

AFP

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook activated a feature allowing people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to reach out for help from their community.

The Community Help feature was added to the social network four years ago as a way to find shelter, food or supplies during natural disasters, and this week added the COVID-19 crisis to that list.

"We've been seeing since the beginning people asking for help," Facebook app head Fidji Simo told AFP.

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"We've been working for a couple of weeks at enabling the feature."

While Community Help has been activated for tragedies such as the recent Australian wildfires, this time the feature reaches far beyond a single country and had to be woven into the coronavirus information hub, according to Simo.

Facebook set the help radius by default to 50 miles in the US and 100 kilometres in other countries, but people can scale back the area in which they are available to be of assistance.

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"You can adjust it down if you can only help in your neighbourhood," Simo said.

The feature lets Facebook users request or offer help from walking dogs or fetching groceries to psychotherapy.

Since a COVID-19 Information Center launched two weeks ago at Facebook, more than a billion people have been showed notifications about resources from health authorities through the hub and "educational pop-up" notifications at the social network and Instagram.

Source
AFP