Image: Flickr user Christoph Scholz//CC 2.0

Facebook announced yesterday, a coronavirus community hub for people who use its Messenger app, to help people fight the rampant spread of rumours and misinformation about the Coronavirus.

Facebook said,”…we’ve created a program to connect government health organizations with Messenger developers who can help them establish a presence in Messenger, set up automated, instant responses to commonly asked questions and inquiries and broadcast important updates to their communities as new information becomes available.” Similar functionalities were added to Facebook group’s other messaging platform-WhatsApp, just a little while back.

On March 18, WhatsApp announced a similar “Whatsapp Coronavirus Information Hub” in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP — to offer simple, actionable guidance, general tips and resources for users around the world to be better informed about the disease and hence reduce the spread of rumors. Along with the announcement of the community, WhatsApp also promised to offer $1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), to fight the spread of rumours and promote legitimate news checking.

Facebook has registered major upsurge in traffic across all of its platform, largely due to massive lock downs throughout the world, and people using social media to stay connected. “Around the world, we’ve seen significant increases in people using Messenger for group calls to stay in touch with their loved ones. Globally, 70% more people are participating in group video calls and time spent on group video calls has doubled,” wrote Stan Chudnovsky, VP of Messenger.

Despite the surge though, Facebook has warned investors that the company is loosing out on advertising money, which makes up almost all of company’s revenues. This is largely because economies globally have come to a grinding halt, resulting in companies immediately withdrawing unnecessary expenses, marketing/advertising being one of them. These additional users are not adding to monetisation as well.