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Facebook Adds New Tools for Groups to Help Ensure Members Are Getting Accurate COVID-19 Information



Facebook has announced a new set of tools for groups related to COVID-19, which aim to provide links to accurate, timely information about the pandemic, and help to ensure that members are aware of the latest updates and changes.

First off, Facebook’s adding a new educational pop-up for COVID-19 related groups which will direct members to Facebook’s COVID-19 information centre, where it highlights official updates from relevant organizations. Facebook says the pop-up is similar to what users see when they conduct a search for COVID-19 related terms on the platform.

Facebook COVID-19 pop-up

Facebook will also now prompt the admins of COVID-19 related groups as to when official health authorities are going live with updates, so that they can re-share the relevant Facebook Live broadcasts with their groups.

And lastly, Facebook’s also partnered with the CDC to develop a new curriculum for its learning units for groups, which will enable group admins to provide dedicated space for COVID-19 educational tools within their communities.

Facebook COVID-19 learning units

As per Facebook:

For learning units on COVID-19, we’re starting with content about understanding increased risks associated with COVD-19 and underlying health issues based on the populations the CDC has identified. We plan on adding units for families and frequent travelers and will continue to add more content as they become available from the CDC.”

Each of these units will have differing levels of relevance for different groups, and as the CDC updates the available education modules over time, it may be worth checking in to see if there are any units of relevance to your community, which can help communicate relevant information.

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Groups have become an increasingly important tool for Facebook, with more than a billion active Facebook users engaging in groups every month. Facebook also recently reported a rise in groups usage around the COVID-19 pandemic – in the UK alone, more than a million Facebook users now belong to one of the more than 1,000 COVID-19 support groups that have spring up on the platform.

But groups can also be a key source of conspiracy theories and misinformation. Case in point, this week, Facebook has announced that it will take action to remove posts which link the spread of COVID-19 with 5G transmitters, after various mobile towers were vandalized due to rising discussion about a rumored connection. A portion of that discussion has stemmed from anti-5G Facebook groups, which continue to push such claims despite them being debunked

These new tools could be another way to tackle such rumors, while also providing more definitive, up to date links for all COVID-19 discussion groups. 


Facebook’s new COVID-19 learning units for groups will begin rolling out this week.


New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat’s Coming ‘Family Center’ Will Work



New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat's Coming 'Family Center' Will Work

Snapchat’s parental control options look close to launch, with new screenshots based on back-end code showing how Snap’s coming ‘Family Center’ will look in the app.

As you can see in these images, shared by app intelligence company Watchful (via TechCrunch), the Family Center will enable parents to see who their child is engaging with in the app, along with who they’ve added, who they’re following, etc.

That could provide a new level of assurance for parents – though it could also be problematic for Snap, which has become a key resource for more private, intimate connection, with its anti-public posting ethos, and disappearing messages, helping to cement its place as an alternative to other social apps.

That’s really how Snap has embedded its niche. While other apps are about broadcasting your life to the wider world, Snap is about connecting with a small group of friends, where you can share your more private, secret thoughts, without concern of them living on forever, and coming back to bite you at a later stage.

That also, of course, means that more questionable, dangerous communications are happening in the app. Various reports have investigated how Snap is used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, while drug dealers reportedly now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.

Which, of course, is why parents will be keen to get more insight into such, but I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.

But if parents know that it exists, they may have to, and that could be problematic for Snap. Teen users will need to accept their parents’ invitation to enable Family Center monitoring, but you can see how this could become an issue for many younger users in the app.


Still, the protective benefits may well be worth it, with random hook-ups and other engagements posing significant risks. And with kids as young as 13 able to create a Snapchat account, there are many vulnerable youngsters engaging in the app.

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But it could reduce Snap’s appeal, as more parents become aware of the tool.

Snapchat hasn’t provided any further insight into the new Family Center, or when it will be released, but it looks close to launch based on these images.  

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