Messenger From Facebook, Developers Join Forces to Take On the Coronavirus

Partners will provide free services to health organizations, and the app is holding a global hackathon

Organizations already using Messenger in this fashion include UNICEF and Pakistan’s NHSRC Messenger From Facebook

Messenger From Facebook introduced two initiatives aimed at supporting government health organizations globally during the coronavirus pandemic: a partnership with several developers to provide free services enabling them to use the application to scale their responses, and an online hackathon to encourage developers to build messaging solutions related to the crisis.

Vice president of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky detailed both measures in a blog post in the wee hours of Monday morning.

He wrote, “Communities around the world are dealing with quarantines and other disruptions to daily life because of the coronavirus outbreak. As is common in any crisis, people are using digital channels like Messenger to stay connected and get information from trusted health authorities that are on the front lines fighting this global pandemic.”

Several Messenger developer partners will provide free services to government health organizations and United Nations health agencies to help them use the app to provide timely and accurate information.

Examples include helping them create automated responses to deal with frequently asked questions, teaching them the most effective ways to share updates with their audiences and showing them the best ways to seamlessly transition from automated conversations to chatting with live people, when necessary.

Chudnovsky said Argentina’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Innovation are rolling out a Messenger experience Monday to answer questions from the public about the coronavirus and to provide fast, reliable and official advice 24 hours per day, and other organizations already using Messenger in this fashion include UNICEF and Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHSRC).

Messenger From Facebook

Zafar Mirza, special assistant to Pakistan’s prime minister on health, said in the blog post, “Facebook’s support on the global coronavirus crisis will be crucial for strengthening public awareness and empowering our citizens with key health tips that will keep communities safe in Pakistan and around the world. The Messenger experience allows our ministry to scale our support and serve citizens seeking up to date information on the coronavirus, while keeping our helpline open for more critical cases.”

Messenger is also partnering with hackathon provider Devpost, inviting developers worldwide to participate in an online hackathon aimed at finding ways to leverage the Messenger platform for solutions addressing issues related to Covid-19, such as social distancing and keeping people educated and informed.

Chudnovsky said participants will be encouraged to build both local and global solutions, and they will receive unique access to Messenger-related content such as Facebook Live tutorials with product experts and other educational materials.

Winners will receive mentoring from Facebook engineers in order to bring their solutions to life, as well as invitations to attend global developer conference F8 2021, where they will participate in that event’s hackathon.

Chudnovsky concluded, “We’re committed to leveraging our resources and Messenger’s reach, tools and technology to ensure that government health organizations and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) around the world have the resources they need to share timely, accurate information on the coronavirus to keep people safe and informed.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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