2020 is quite a different year for us at Facebook and certainly, the world. It started with natural calamities — from the bushfire in Australia, to earthquakes in Puerto Rico and several countries across the globe.
Closer to home, Taal Volcano erupted. We moved fast and activated Disaster Maps to support the Philippine Red Cross so they can send help where it’s most needed, and Facebook’s Crisis Response Hub, so people can mark themselves safe and check in on their loved ones, or request for help from nearby communities.
At around the same time, we were seeing reports of growing concern around COVID-19. We took precautions and shifted to mandatory work from home for those in the Manila office in March. We all had to quickly adapt and ensure we continued to do our part to enable physical distancing.
I know this was a hard time for many businesses, particularly small and micro businesses, but I’m truly inspired by the resiliency of the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit. This is particularly true of how quickly businesses small and large, pivoted to online channels.
To share a personal story — my wife was very hesitant to go to the grocery and we started to think about how we’d get basic necessities. Over the first few days though, she quickly discovered all these great small businesses that enabled us to get what we needed — from a rice seller on Instagram (@healthygrains.ph) to someone who’d deliver herbs and spices (@reqadophspicestore), and even things we never used to buy, like sourdough bread from @doughbyangelica.
“ A cut-and-paste of work to home life is not sustainable. We are telling our managers to be flexible when it comes to non-traditional working hours, and to embrace cameos from the occasional toddler or family pet on video conference calls. ”
No matter what you do in an organization, the challenges of working remotely during this pandemic go far beyond adapting to a desk outside of your normal office. We are all grappling with how to get through the day while juggling conference calls, children, pets, eldery parents, and the unrelenting news cycle about the pandemic.
There is no one playbook for what is happening in the world right now, but we are doing our best to share resources and key learnings over the last couple of months with the goal of helping businesses around the world set up their employees for success as we continue on this new normal of working remotely for the foreseeable future.
“ Our response to the pandemic, as a company, has been focused on three areas: helping people stay connected; ensuring everyone has access to accurate information and removing harmful content; and supporting economic recovery, especially for small businesses. ”
A cut-and-paste of work to home life is not sustainable. We are telling our managers to be flexible when it comes to non-traditional working hours, and to embrace cameos from the occasional toddler or family pet on video conference calls. Employees around the world are working to juggle new challenges at home and at work and fierce support from leadership makes all the difference.
To help companies learn from what we now know — and from the mistakes we’ve made — we created a Remote Work Toolkit so that employees and teams can continue to stay connected, feel supported, and do important work wherever they happen to be working from — their home office, couch, or dining table.
Our response to the pandemic, as a company, has been focused on three areas: helping people stay connected; ensuring everyone has access to accurate information and removing harmful content; and supporting economic recovery, especially for small businesses.
Helping people stay connected
We know that people rely on social apps to connect with the people and things that are most important to them. In many of the places hardest hit by the virus, messaging has increased in volume by more than 50 percent, and voice and video calling have more than doubled across Messenger and WhatsApp.
At the end of Q1, more than 800 million daily active users have been engaging with livestreams — from workout classes to concerts, and more.
In the Philippines, we’ve seen how efforts like Maestro Ryan Cayabyab’s Bayanihan Musikahan brought together people who are not just passionate about OPM but also about wanting to make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities in this pandemic. Before the nightly charity online concert’s run ended, they raised donations worth over P122 million in cash and in kind.
For the first time ever, more than three billion people are actively using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month. That includes 2.6 billion people using Facebook alone, and more than 2.3 billion people using at least one of our services every day. We are working hard to ensure our services are stable and reliable.
Connecting people to reliable information
Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global public health emergency, we’ve been working to connect people to accurate information across our family of apps and taking aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading.
“ Connecting people to credible information is only half the challenge. Stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful content about COVID-19 on our apps is also critically important. ”
In the Philippines, we launched the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center at the top of people’s News Feed. It leads to the latest stats and updates from the Department of Health, WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund, with links to their verified Facebook pages.
On Messenger, people can message KIRA, the Department of Health’s KontraCOVID Chatbot, to get quick responses to common questions about the virus and get information on how to protect themselves and loved ones against COVID-19.
Connecting people to credible information is only half the challenge. Stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful content about COVID-19 on our apps is also critically important.
This is why we have updated our Community Standards to protect people from harmful content and new types of abuse related to the pandemic including content that has the potential to contribute to real-world harm. We work with over 60 fact-checking organizations that review and rate content in more than 50 languages around the world.
Additionally, we also started showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted, or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed.
Supporting business recovery
What started out as a global health crisis has ballooned to become an economic crisis. Businesses big and small are suffering including over 140 million small businesses globally who use our platform.
And so, we are continuously working to find ways to make it easier for people to connect, explore, and engage in different forms of commerce across our family of apps.
This global pandemic has changed and will continue to change the face of commerce as we know it. People who have never shopped online before finally got to experience firsthand the ease and efficiency of online transactions.
And while some people may return to their old shopping habits as restrictions ease, a good number of these newly converted online shoppers are likely to continue to make purchases from the safety of home.
As businesses accelerate their shift to online connection and commerce, we are focused on helping our community navigate the challenges of this pivot and providing tools and resources so they can adapt to the changing circumstances and stay informed.
The rise of mobile use, online messaging and the increasing popularity of video — be it Stories, IGTV, Facebook Watch or Facebook Live — are social trends that we see influencing how we do business, from e-commerce to conversational commerce. We want to equip people with the knowledge and skills to keep up over the next few years.
Earlier in July, we launched “Boost with Facebook,” a virtual webinar series that aims to educate and support businesses as they recover and build business resilience, so they’re prepared for crisis or any kind of business disruption.
The ongoing series can be viewed every Wednesday in the Facebook for Business Page and features inspiring small business owners who have pivoted and continue to move forward.
This is an extraordinarily challenging time for many reasons, and there is a clear disruption to business as usual.
While we continue to be faced with uncertainties on how long we’ll be sheltering in place and keeping physical distance, we’ll continue working with our partners in the Philippines to keep our community safe and informed, and enabling support for communities and businesses on our platform.
Edited by Janvic Mateo