Facebook is granting the World Health Organization unlimited free ads and “other in-kind support” to share “timely, accurate information” about coronavirus and Covid-19, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Zuckerberg added that it will extend similar courtesies to other organizations and work with global health organizations to provide additional help, if necessary.
Facebook said in late January that its third-party fact-checkers were working to review content and debunk false claims related to the outbreak.
And the social network said last week that ads that promise to cure or prevent the virus would be banned.
Zuckerberg said in his post, “As well as accessing information, we’re also looking at how people can use our services to help contribute to the broader efforts to contain the outbreak. Researchers are already using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data—including mobility data and population density maps—to better understand how the virus is spreading.”
Zuckerberg said a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enabled researchers in Cambodia to sequence the full genome of the virus that causes Covid-19 in days, and the team created a new public version of its IDSeq tool to give scientists around the globe the chance to study that genome.
He added that the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has been part of the team developing the cell atlas, a periodic table of different cell types in the body, which researchers can use to investigate potential ways to limit lung damage and address the symptoms of coronavirus.
Zuckerberg wrote, “There are other ways that technology can help people adapt to the outbreak, too. Communities around the world are dealing with quarantines and other disruption to their daily lives, and they’re using the internet more to stay connected even when they can’t be together in person. We know from previous emergencies—and from places where there have already been outbreaks of coronavirus across the world—that in times of crisis, people rely on communication tools even more than usual. This means that as well as helping people access information, we have a responsibility to make sure our services are stable and reliable to handle this load, and we take that seriously, too.”
He concluded, “There’s more that we can do to help people feel less isolated and help one another, and we’re working on some ideas that we’ll share in the next few weeks, but for now, the focus is on slowing the spread of the outbreak itself. This is a difficult time for a lot of people, and I’m thinking of everyone affected by this—the people who are sick or quarantined, their friends and family and, of course, the healthcare workers who are always on the frontlines of any outbreak. We’ll share more updates soon.”