MENLO PARK (CBS SF / CNN) — Facebook is rolling out a new tool that lets its users offer or request help from their neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Menlo Park-based social media giant announced the “Community Help” feature, where people can volunteer to pick up groceries, ask someone to run an errand or donate to fundraisers.
Users in the US will be able to see posts within a 50-mile radius of their location or closer. Facebook said it noticed users offering or asking for help and wanted to build a feature to make the process easier.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
It’s a concept similar to what’s already occurring on Nextdoor, a social network for local communities and neighborhoods. Nextdoor users are using the platform to share local coronavirus updates, pick up medical supplies for others and trade goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Facebook has been known to borrow features from rivals, including disappearing posts and a dating tool. Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, said its user base of over 2 billion people worldwide will give it an advantage over other community services.
“The likelihood you can find what you need within the Facebook community is high because so many people are currently on Facebook. Our goal is really to maximize the number of people who find the help they need,” Simo told CNN Business.
The feature will roll out in the US, UK, France, Australia and Canada in the coming days and is expected to become available in more countries in the next few weeks.
The US has more than 160,700 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and there are more than 787,000 known cases around the world.
To raise awareness about the new tool, Facebook plans to run an ad campaign online and on TV. It’s already featuring announcements at the top of the News Feed to direct people to its coronavirus information center, which launched earlier this month with updates and best practices from national and global health organizations.
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