After already announcing a ban on ads which seek to capitalize on coronavirus fears, News Feed prompts to highlight relevant, accurate information on the outbreak, and a new business resource hub for those impacted by the pandemic, Facebook has also now announced that it will give more local authorities access to its Local Alerts tool, in order to help them distribute relevant updates and info among their communities.
As explained by Facebook:
"As COVID-19 has spread in the US, local governments have used Facebook to share critical information with their communities about this fast-evolving situation. Because of the increasing need to get timely and accurate information to local communities, we’re expanding access to Facebook local alerts to even more municipal governments, state and local emergency response organizations and law enforcement agencies."
Facebook says that state and local public health agencies will also now be able to access Local Alerts, while it's also looking to provide additional training to relevant groups as they start using the tool in order to share best practices.
Local Alerts, which Facebook first launched back in 2018, provide another way to highlight relevant news in feeds, including - as you can see in the image above - through Notification prompts, helping to disseminate key updates within specific regions. Facebook doesn't, however, give Local Alert-tagged posts a News Feed boost, but the additional tag and notification can provide a significant boost, and help to keep people informed.
On another front, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also announced that Facebook will match up to $20 million in donations across two separate fundraisers for research into the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of course, many of the comments on that post point out the fact that Zuckerberg is worth $68 billion, and that he, personally, could contribute much more, but Zuckerberg is also contributing funds and research through The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, as well as providing free Facebook ad credits to relevant organizations, along with other efforts.
While it may seem like fair game to criticize, it's fair to say that Zuckerberg is contributing a lot more than many other billionaires. I don't know that that makes it a lot better, but Zuckerberg, and Facebook, are at least seeking to assist.
If you run a city government, county government, fire/emergency services, or law enforcement Page on Facebook and you would like access to Local Alerts, you can fill out the application form here.