Facebook announced its partnership with the Kenyan government to keep Kenyans safe and informed about COVID-19 through updates on its platform.
Facebook is enabling educational pop-ups on search results around the virus on all its platforms, the company is also providing the Ministry of Health with free ad credits to enable them run coronavirus education campaigns on its platforms.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Facebook will soon be launching a WhatsApp Business API, a dedicated Coronavirus hotline – 0110-719719. The Coronavirus hotline is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will enable Kenyans to get answers to the most common questions about Coronavirus from the Ministry of Health 24 hours a day. The service will also provide information on topics such as Coronavirus prevention and symptoms, the latest number of cases in the country, advice on staying at home, travel advisory and mythbusting. The service will also enable the Ministry of Health to send urgent messages to all Kenyans who will opt-in for the service.
Included in its ongoing efforts, and in collaboration with the Ministry of ICT, the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Government spokesperson, Facebook has also trained government officials on the best practices of using Facebook tools to educate Kenyans on the government’s efforts around COVID-19.
Commenting on this, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy for East Africa, Mercy Ndegwa said: “COVID-19 has presented immense challenges that require concerted efforts from governments, technology companies, and civil society. We are committed to working with all relevant bodies, both locally and globally to respond to this ever evolving situation. As always, we encourage all users to check the facts via official public health agencies before sharing messages that have been forwarded to them, and to engage directly with trusted and official sources for important information.”
Kenya Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna welcomed the collaboration with Facebook, and described the platform as an important tool in disseminating developing information about COVID-19, commenting: “As a government, we are deploying both traditional and digital communications tools to disseminate trusted information about this virus. We welcome Facebook’s partnership in helping to reach and interact with a wider segment of the population, so we can share the facts and provide accurate advice.”
Other ways in which Facebook is helping to keep people safe and informed through local and global partnerships, as well as updates to its platform, include:
- Supporting Health Agencies- Facebook continues to partner with organizations like health agencies and NGOs who are actively using its platforms to share accurate information about the situation, including on Pages.
- Supporting global health organisations in fundraising – As people come together on Facebook for this critical relief effort, Facebook is supporting the UNF/WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund Facebook Fundraiser with $10M in matching donations. Facebook is also working with the CDC Foundation to launch a Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks which will also match up to $10M.
- Limiting misinformation and harmful content – Facebook’s global network of third-party fact-checkers are continuing their work of reviewing content and debunking false claims that are spreading rumors related to coronavirus. In Kenya this includes local partners AFP, Africa Check and Pesa Check, with local language Swahili, also supported through our partnership with Africa Check.
- Removing Harmful Health Misinformation: Facebook is actively removing content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. Facebook is doing this as an extension of existing policies to remove content that could cause physical harm. It is focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. Facebook is also blocking or restricting hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and is conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as possible.
- Creation of the Business Resource Hub – Facebook is supporting businesses being affected – directly or indirectly – by the recent outbreak of COVID-19. The Hub features resources and recommendations to help small businesses stay connected to customers and keep their business on track. It also includes quick and easy access to credible and accurate information about COVID-19 to help small businesses and the communities they serve stay informed.
- $100 million investment for SMBs -Facebook has heard loud and clear that financial support could enable SMB’s to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work. That’s why Facebook recently announced that it is investing $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where their employees live and work.
- Free Access to Workplace Advanced: It’s more important than ever that people in critical roles are able to focus on their most impactful work. With this in mind, Facebook is giving all emergency service providers and government organizations around the world free access to Workplace Advanced for one year, subject to local legal and compliance checks.