Facebook has launched a new Coronavirus Community Hub for Messenger, which aims to highlight key ways in which people can use its messaging app to stay in touch amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, and includes specific knowledge areas for parents, educators, business, health organizations and more.
As explained by Facebook:
"Our communities give us the strength we need to get through challenges, and maintaining those bonds has become even more important today. The new resource hub offers tips for staying connected to your family, friends, faith community, classmates and coworkers as we practice physical distancing."
The education hub covers virtually every use case for Messenger, with links to specific overviews for each, along with pointers to Facebook's Help Center and other resources, highlighting the various options.
But the biggest focus may actually be this:
Messenger, along with WhatsApp, has become a key platform of focus for scams and hoaxes amid the pandemic. In the past, Facebook's main app seemed to be the main vehicle for such, due to its massive audience reach, but now, with Facebook instituting more measures to remove and detect misinformation in its main app, and messaging platforms providing more private means to reach similarly large audiences, the emphasis appears to have shifted.
That's lead various government groups to call for increased action, and has prompted Facebook to explore new ways to stem the flow of messaging misinformation, in order to halt damaging movements before they gain traction.
That includes, unfortunately, charity scams:
"We take your safety seriously and continue to take aggressive steps to remove fake accounts and catch scammers before they reach you. We’ve already heard of attempts to run treatment or fundraising scams online, and our new hub offers additional tips and resources to help people avoid online scams."
This is obviously a critical area of focus, as public knowledge and understanding will be key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. The focus on this element suggests that this was also part of the main impetus in the launch of the new hub.
The hub also includes links to tools for government organizations and agencies, to help them communicate with their audiences amid the crisis.
There's a range of great info here, and while it might not see a heap of usage, it provides another way for Facebook to improve its educational efforts, and another place to refer to in order to keep users informed.
It's worth taking a moment to check it out - the new Messenger Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Hub is accessible here.