Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is stepping up its response to the coronavirus, announcing it is centralizing information in a new feature.
Dubbed Information Center, the feature will appear at the top of users' News Feeds, providing a central place for people to get the lastest COVID-19 news and information. Facebook is relying on reputable sources including the World Health Organization, which the social media giant recently partnered with to disseminate accurate information.
The Information Center will include real-time updates, articles, videos and posts about social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. The Information Center will also encourage Facebook's 2.5 billion monthly active users to take social distancing seriously.
"The broad consensus is that the biggest role we can help play is encouraging people to take the social distancing orders seriously," Zuckerberg said during a press call to announce the latest initiative. "The goal here is to put authoritative information from organizations like the GDC and WHO in front of everyone who uses our services." The Information Center feature will be rolled out to customers in the U.S. and Europe by Thursday. It will be expanded globally in the coming days.
Facebook also announced it's making its Workplace communications software free to governments and emergency service organizations for 12 months. As for WhatsApp, Facebook's messaging app, the company said it close to doubled the server capacity to ensure the app can handle the increased usage. Facebook is also is donating $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network to expand the number of local fact-checkers on WhatsApp.
During the press call, Zuckerberg said WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are seeing more than double the normal usage. Usage across its services has been "very elevated" in the countries affected by the virus.