Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis

| | No Comments
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis

Today Facebook has shared a roundup of its latest COVID-19 global relief efforts across its platforms including Facebook and Instagram. This includes both new initiatives and products on its platforms, but also the powerful ways the Australian commmunity is connecting and supporting each other on Facebook and Instagram.


Right now, Facebook is focussing efforts on three things:

– Making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information
– Supporting global health experts
– Stopping misinformation and harmful content

Facebook will continue to share breaking updates in the Facebook newsroom here and Instagram newsroom here.

New Insights

As the pandemic expands and more people practice physically distancing, internet use is surging to levels never seen before. This has also meant that many more people are using our apps during this time. Facebook is sharing the following information on how this is impacting our services to give context on the loads we are managing: Keeping Our Services Stable and Reliable During the COVID-19 Outbreak, (this includes these new global stats:)

1. In many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month.

2. Similarly, in places hit hardest by the virus, voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.

3. We’re seeing a significant increase in both IG Live and Facebook Live usage, especially as more and more celebrities and musicians turn to these channels to stay connected with their fans.

4. In Italy, specifically:

  • – We’ve seen up to 70% more time spent across our apps since the crisis arrived in the country.
  • – Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week.
  • – We have also seen messaging increase by over 50% and time in group video calling (three or more participants) increase by over 1,000% over the last month.

In Australia:

1. More than 100,000 people in Australia are members of over 200 new COVID-19 local support groups on Facebook.

2. In Australia, the top-ten hashtags on Instagram over the past week include #socialdistancing, #supportsmallbusiness, #supportlocal, and #stayhome.

1. Our first priority is making sure everyone can access credible and accurate information.

  • – NEW: People who search for information related to COVID-19 on Instagram will start to see an educational message connecting them to resources from the World Health Organization and local health ministries. We are working quickly to make this available globally over the coming weeks.
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis
  • – If you search for coronavirus on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see a pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information. In Australia you’ll also see the pop-up in your News Feed.

2. We’re supporting global health experts and governments as they work to address the outbreak and get the word out on how to “flatten the curve.” 

We’re launching new tools and features to help people access accurate information, stay safe, and stay connected.

  • – NEW Stay Home sticker + story on Instagram: We’ve launched a “Stay Home” sticker, to help those practicing social distancing connect with others. Any accounts you follow who use the sticker will be added to a shared Instagram story, allowing you to see how others are practicing social distancing during this time.
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis

We’ve already seen some of Australia’s celebs and top creators using the Stay Home sticker in their Stories, including@browncardigan, @amyshark, @thehughjackman, @dannibelle, @alrighthey and more. Check out their Stories here.

  • – NEW Health Tip Stickers: In the coming days, we’re launching a series of new Instagram stickers to help people share accurate COVID-19 information in Stories. These new features include reminders to wash your hands, distance yourself from others, and more.
  • – NEW Co-watching on Instagram: To help people stay connected on Instagram, we’ve launched Co-Watching, a new feature that allows you to view Instagram posts together with your friends over video chat.
  • – NEW: This week, we announced two initiatives providing free services to government health organizations and UN health agencies to help them use Messenger to scale their response to the COVID-19 crisis. More info here.
  • – NEW: We’re also inviting developers worldwide to participate in an online hackathon leveraging the Messenger platform to build messaging solutions that address COVID-19 issues like social distancing and keeping people educated and informed.
  • – And we’re making Workplace free to governments and emergency services for a year. More info here.
  • – We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response, and we’ll give support and millions more in ad credits to other organizations.

3. Stopping misinformation and harmful content. 

  • – We’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations.
    • – This started with taking down dangerous claims like “drinking bleach can cure coronavirus” and now includes claims that social distancing doesn’t work.
    • – Additionally on Instagram, we’ll remove COVID-19 accounts from account recommendations, and we are working to remove some COVID-19 related content from Explore, unless posted by a credible health organization.
  • – We’re blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease.
  • – We’ve also banned ads and commerce listings selling medical masks, hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 test kits in ads and commerce listings. More info here.

Australians on Facebook + Instagram

As is often the case in times of crisis, we’re also seeing Australian’s using our platforms to connect, share positivity, and support one another during the COVID-19 outbreak.

– NEW: More than 100,000 people in Australia are now members of over 200 COVID-19 local support groups on Facebook.

  • – For example: The Kindness Pandemic: -“Kindness won’t make COVID19 go away, but it will make our lives easier and more rewarding.” This Facebook group particularly encourages intergenerational kindness during the COVID-19 crisis, but welcomes its members to share all acts of kindness.
  • – Love your neighbour Melbourne: A strong example of a local group with Melbourne-based people volunteering to support the community and share essential items.
  • – Northside Melbourne CoronaVirus Outreach – Created to help people support the community around them and coordinate mutual aid, this Facebook Group is particularly for young/relatively healthy people who have resources to support those who are immunocompromised, disabled, living with chronic illness, elderly, or poor.

As more people around the world are practicing social distancing, Australians are using our services to stay connected to one another even when they can’t physically be together:

  • – We’ve seen Facebook used to launch Sydney’s first online nightclub, Room 2 Radio. Launched last Friday 20 March, their first party was such a success that they hired two new staff members. Their next party will be streamed on Facebook Live this Friday night.
  • – The Australian music industry has started a new hashtag on Instagram #KeepYourTicket, encouraging music fans to hold onto any tickets you might have purchased for events that have now been postponed, instead of requesting a refund. This aims to take pressure off of acts who have had to postpone their shows and keeps funds in the industry when it is needed most.
  • – Over the weekend, DJ @dnice hosted the hottest global party on Instagram LIVE! Over 300k viewers joined in on the fun, including Michelle Obama, Oprah, Lenny Kravitz, Will Smith, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, Rihanna, Michael B Jordan, Halle Berry, Justin Timberlake and tons, tons more.
  • – With weddings now limited to five people, Aussie wedding planning business @WedShed shared “tips and templates to postpone your wedding due to COVID-19” on their Instagram account, and set up a Facebook GroupWedChat by WedShed for additional support for couples.
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis
  • – At a time when some children are home instead of at school, a few Instagram accounts have popped up to support parents with fun activities. These include @little_lockdown_learning for fun home-based activities for 2-5 year olds, while author and illustrator @CarsonEllis is posting art assignments on her Instagram page every weekday morning using the hashtag #quarantineartclub.
  • – Users are challenging each other with the hashtag #IStayHomeFor to share stories about the loved ones in their lives that they’re protecting by practicing social distancing. @emmawatson posted today for her grandma, mother and best friend.

In true Aussie style, our Instagram community has been sharing content to raise your spirits. From funny memes, to outlandish style, and your daily dose of cute:

  • – Beauty and style creator @RowiSingh shared her first “Lockdown Look” and used the thumb-stopping image to ask her followers to wash their hands.”
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis
  • – Zoe Foster Blake’s daughter shared a passionate (and ridiculously cute) plea for Australians to stay home.
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis
  • – We dare you not to weep with creative agency @MotionSicknessStudio’s heart-warming IGTV video documenting parents’ phone failures (and a reminder that we need to take precautions to protect them during this crisis).
Facebook releases new features and intiatives for the Australian community during COVID-19 crisis
  • – People are sharing and finding information in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before. Churches are broadcasting services on Facebook Live, such as Leichhardt Uniting Church, that offered its two Sunday services as Facebook live streams for followers.
  •  – and teachers setting homework on WhatsApp.

Lastly, while the health concerns here are the top priority, we know people have very real worries about what this will mean for their businesses and their jobs.

  • – That’s why we’re creating a $100M grant program to help 30,000 small businesses around the world, including Australia to help these businesses easily find the help, training and support they need. More info here.