Facebook and Instagram launch COVID-19 resources as usage spikes, while others follow suit

Facebook and Instagram have launched new features to help with coronavirus pandemic relief efforts and reduce the spread of misinformation related to the outbreak.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt our lives, people confined to their homes are turning to social media apps more often than usual. According to the data insights firm Kantar, social media engagement has increased 61% over normal usage patterns during the COVID-19 outbreak, with Facebook and Instagram both seeing 40% more activity from users under the age of 35. In turn, social platforms are pooling their efforts to support users during the pandemic, launching relief resources and taking action to reduce misinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak.

Facebook launches COVID-19 Information Center

Facebook coronavirus hub
Facebook coronavirus hub

Facebook has responded to coronavirus in multiple ways. Early on, the company banned COVID-19 ads from Facebook App and Instagram that were considered misleading or guaranteed coronavirus cures. It also launched an SMB Grants program that will award 30,000 companies around the world more than $3,000 each to keep their businesses going through the pandemic. A day after launching the SMB grants program, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company was releasing a Coronavirus Information Center, building on Facebook’s previous disaster relief messaging and tools.

Facebook’s Coronavirus hub collects information from reliable sources such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It includes a “Get Help” feature and a section titled “Get the Facts” with fact-checked articles to debunk misinformation about the pandemic. Users have been using the “Get Help” feature to find masks for essential workers, make requests for volunteers to help distribute food, and offer free meals for those in need.

“We’re designing it to be very adaptive on a day to day basis,” said Zuckerberg about the hub. He confirmed the company was working with various global governments to tailor the information by location.  

Instagram helps users support SMBs

Instagram Stay Home
Instagram “Stay Home” campaign

Instagram has followed Facebook’s lead, launching multiple in-app resources connected to the pandemic. In April, the company announced new features aimed at helping users support their favorite SMBs, including stickers that businesses could use in Stories to promote gift cards, food orders, and fundraisers.

Instagram has rolled-out PSA-styled stickers to remind users to wash their hands and practice safe social-distancing habits. It also updated its news feed, surfacing content from reliable sources like the WHO and local health ministries for any searches on the app related to the coronavirus or COVID-19.

Pinterest, Twitter and Snapchat follow suit

Facebook and Instagram are not the only social networks launching COVID-19 resources. Pinterest moved up the launch of its “Today” tab after seeing an all-time high in saved Pins and searches on the platform during March. (The tab features expert information from the WHO and the CDC and highlights categories that are especially popular right now.) Twitter published an extensive list of all the ways it was surfacing reliable information during the pandemic. Not to be left out, Snapchat launched a “COVID-19: Business Center” for brands and added a coronavirus-related news feed to the Discover section within the app. 

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Akvile DeFazio is the President of AKvertise, a social media advertising agency. She specializes in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter Ads. Follow @AkvileDeFazio