Facebook has announced a new set of tools for groups related to COVID-19, which aim to provide links to accurate, timely information about the pandemic, and help to ensure that members are aware of the latest updates and changes.
First off, Facebook's adding a new educational pop-up for COVID-19 related groups which will direct members to Facebook's COVID-19 information centre, where it highlights official updates from relevant organizations. Facebook says the pop-up is similar to what users see when they conduct a search for COVID-19 related terms on the platform.
Facebook will also now prompt the admins of COVID-19 related groups as to when official health authorities are going live with updates, so that they can re-share the relevant Facebook Live broadcasts with their groups.
And lastly, Facebook's also partnered with the CDC to develop a new curriculum for its learning units for groups, which will enable group admins to provide dedicated space for COVID-19 educational tools within their communities.
As per Facebook:
"For learning units on COVID-19, we’re starting with content about understanding increased risks associated with COVD-19 and underlying health issues based on the populations the CDC has identified. We plan on adding units for families and frequent travelers and will continue to add more content as they become available from the CDC."
Each of these units will have differing levels of relevance for different groups, and as the CDC updates the available education modules over time, it may be worth checking in to see if there are any units of relevance to your community, which can help communicate relevant information.
Groups have become an increasingly important tool for Facebook, with more than a billion active Facebook users engaging in groups every month. Facebook also recently reported a rise in groups usage around the COVID-19 pandemic - in the UK alone, more than a million Facebook users now belong to one of the more than 1,000 COVID-19 support groups that have spring up on the platform.
But groups can also be a key source of conspiracy theories and misinformation. Case in point, this week, Facebook has announced that it will take action to remove posts which link the spread of COVID-19 with 5G transmitters, after various mobile towers were vandalized due to rising discussion about a rumored connection. A portion of that discussion has stemmed from anti-5G Facebook groups, which continue to push such claims despite them being debunked.
These new tools could be another way to tackle such rumors, while also providing more definitive, up to date links for all COVID-19 discussion groups.
Facebook's new COVID-19 learning units for groups will begin rolling out this week.