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Facebook lets users offer or request assistance from neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic 


Facebook has introduced a new tool that lets people offer or request help from neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Called Community Help, the online hub allows users to volunteer their services or ask those in their area to donate money to assist them during this hard time.

Users are shown posts and fundraisers within a 50-mile radius of their location or they can edit filters to a specific range.

The tool has been available in Facebook for four years for those impacted during natural disasters, but the firm has now added the COVID-19 crisis to that list.

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Facebook has introduced a new tools that lets people offer or request help from neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic. Called Community Help, the online hub allows users to volunteer their services or ask those in their area to donate money to assist them during this hard time

Facebook has introduced a new tools that lets people offer or request help from neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic. Called Community Help, the online hub allows users to volunteer their services or ask those in their area to donate money to assist them during this hard time

Facebook first launched its Community Help in 2017, to give users a way to offer assistance, search for help and receive help in the wake of a crisis.

The feature has since been used to connect users after man-made, accidental and natural disasters, like terrorist attacks or weather events.

‘We have developed a number of crisis response tools, based on what we’ve learned from our community,’ Mike Nowak, Facebook’s product director of social good, said in a blog post announcing the new feature in 2017.

‘When there is a crisis, people use Facebook to let their friends and family know they’re safe, learn and share more about what’s happening, and help communities recover.’

Now that the world is under attack by the coronavirus, Facebook has added new tools with the hopes the community will come together.

Users can ask for help using the new tool. Many are asking for diapers

Others asking for volunteers to assist them with making masks for the community

Users can ask for help using the new tool. Many are asking for diapers. Others asking for volunteers to assist them with making masks for the community. Facebook set the help radius by default to 50 miles in the US and 100 kilometers in other countries, but people can scale back the area in which they are available to be of assistance

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Facebook app head Fidji Simo told AFP: ‘We’ve been seeing since the beginning people asking for help.’

‘We’ve been working for a couple of weeks at enabling the feature.’

The coronavirus (COVID-19) first made headlines in December 2019, when cases began popping up in Wuhan, China.

Within a few weeks it had spread throughout the country and has now infected nearly every part of the world.

As of Wednesday morning, there are more than 853,000 cases and over 42,000 deaths reported around the globe.

However, the US is now feeling the brunt of the virus – many have lost their jobs due to lockdowns in certain states or have been self-quarantined to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

‘Since the beginning of the spread of the virus and especially as people started practicing social distancing, we’ve seen them turn to Facebook to connect with and take action to help their communities,’ Facebook said.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) first made headlines in December 2019, when cases began popping up in Wuhan, China. Within a few weeks it had spread throughout the country and has now infected nearly every part of the world

The coronavirus (COVID-19) first made headlines in December 2019, when cases began popping up in Wuhan, China. Within a few weeks it had spread throughout the country and has now infected nearly every part of the world

The California-based internet giant also said it was continuing to ramp up efforts to provide reliable, timely information about the pandemic and ways to take action.

Facebook set the help radius by default to 50 miles in the US and 100 kilometers in other countries, but people can scale back the area in which they are available to be of assistance.

‘You can adjust it down if you can only help in your neighborhood,’ Simo said.

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Earlier this month CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a phone press conference to reveal Facebook’s new ‘Coronavirus Information Center.’

The hub appear sat the top of users’ Feeds with authoritative information from organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC.

The feature is to stop the numerous conspiracy that are encouraging those who are sick to not receive treatment or disregard recommendations from health officials during the pandemic.

Although Facebook and other tech companies have been working tirelessly to provide accurate and up-to-date information, inaccurate information is also spreading like wildfire, so much that the World Health Organization is calling it an ‘infodemic.’

Earlier this month CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a phone press conference to reveal Facebook's new 'Coronavirus Information Center.' The hub appear sat the top of users' Feeds with authoritative information from organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC

Earlier this month CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a phone press conference to reveal Facebook’s new ‘Coronavirus Information Center.’ The hub appear sat the top of users’ Feeds with authoritative information from organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC

‘The top priority for us has been making sure people can get access to good trustworthy information about the outbreak from reliable sources,’ Zuckerberg said during the call.

During a pandemic we are seeing hoaxes convincing people who are sick not to get treatment or protect people around them.’

‘We’ve seen one hoax that encourages people if you’re sick to drink bleach to cure it.’

‘That’s terrible, that’s going to cause imminent harm.’

The coronavirus information center include sreal-time updates from health authorities and global organizations, as well as articles, videos and posts about recommendations such as social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus.

The hub will provide articles and information from celebrities, journalists and scientific articles as well.

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

* Tax relief: if you have a debt to the tax office you can’t pay call the Australian Tax Office emergency support infoline on 1800 806 218

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* Unexpected bills for essentials: don’t go to high-interest payday lenders. No-interest and low-interest loans of up to $3000 available from Good Shepherd Microfinance.

 * Utility providers will negotiate a payment plan to keep the power, water and gas on – ring them

*  Banks will make hardship provisions available if you are having trouble paying your mortgage – call your lender

* Set up a myGov account at my.gov.au so you can access welfare help online 

* Go to Services Australia and use the payment and service finder to work out what help you can get 

* Access up to $10,000 of superannuation early this financial year, see here

* The first $750 coronavirus supplement will go to those registered as on income support and eligible between 12 March and 13 April. The second $750 payment will go to those eligible and registered on 10 July. Check here

* The new coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight is being added to several welfare payments – check if you are eligible here 

* A list of Services Australia phone numbers for different information lines from crisis payments to low income health care cards is here 

* Visit the Services Australia and register for a Jobseeker Payment or call to register on 132 850

 * Centrelink advance payments are available in some circumstances 

* You can get rent assistance from Services Australia if you are on a JobSeeker payment.

* National Debt Hotline for free advice and support for those in financial difficulty 1800 007 007

* Ask your employer to register on the ATO website ato.gov.au to keep your job going during the coronavirus shutdown so you can get $1500/fortnight 

 



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