FACEBOOK has pledged a staggering $100million (£83million) to small businesses – to help them survive the coronavirus crisis.
As the pandemic rages across the world, small businesses are under particular threat and desperately need cash injections.
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Sheryl Sandberg – the COO of Facebook – says the firm will invest $100million to support small businesses.
The money will be shared across 30,000 organisations in more than 30 countries where Facebook employees live and work.
Some of the fund will be delivered directly as cash grants.
And some of it will be provided as advertising credits to use on Facebook's gargantuan ad platform.
"We've listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them," Sheryl Sandberg wrote.
"We've heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.
"That's why today I’m announcing that Facebook is investing $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where our employees live and work."
Billionaire exec Sandberg, who is widely seen as the savvy operator behind Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg's firm, said that an extended crisis poses major risks to small businesses.
She also announced that Facebook's Business Hub would be available for all businesses to access.
It was previously a resource for Facebook employees and health experts, but will now be opened up to the wider woreld.
And Facebook has pledged to create new "virtual training" to support businesses operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
"Whatever happens next, we will be working to help businesses weather this storm," Sandberg said.
She added: "Please keep safe and look out for those around you."
How does the scheme work?
Facebook has confirmed that the cash grants can be used for payroll, rent costs, connecting with customers and for other operational costs.
It's likely that Facebook will try to share the full amount of cash among many different countries – in the interest of fairness.
According to the official "Boost with Facebook" page, applications will begin in the coming weeks.
You can sign up here.
Facebook also has an advice page for managing businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, which you can find here.
But we still don't know who is eligible, what sort of businesses will be prioritised, how or when the money will be delivered, and how much of the fund is cash versus ad credits.
Pressure on tech
In other Facebook news, Zuckerberg has also pledged to give all 45,000 employees $1,000 in cash (£830) – equating to tens of millions of dollars.
And this week, Facebook teamed up with rival tech giants Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit to crack down on coronavirus scams and fake news.
It came as The Sun revealed how coronavirus scams and COVID-19 conspiracy theories have been spreading like wildfire.
Hackers and scammers are preying on the confusion and interest in coronavirus online.
Pressure is ramping up for tech firms to do more.
In a joint statement, they wrote: "We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts.
"We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms.
"And sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.
"We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe."
Earlier this week, Twitter created a brand new handwashing emoji to help fight germs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The emoji is backed by the World Health Organisation – and shows how social media is becoming a tool to tackle the outbreak.
Any Twitter user can trigger the emoji by using any one of four hashtags.
They are: #handwashing, #SafeHands, #HandWashChallenge and #WashYourHands.
The #SafeHands campaign is backed by the WHO, which has been working overtime to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebrevesus, the WHO director general, praised the emoji while sharing a video of himself washing his hands.
In a tweet, Dr Tedros wrote: "Thank you Twitter for such a nice addition to our #SafeHands challenge!
"We @WHO love it and hope the challenge will generate videos as creative as the new #HandWashing emoji!"
Covid-19 originated in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since travelled rapidly across the globe.
People can spread the virus to each other through close contact or bodily fluids.
An infection causes flu-like symptoms and is thought to kill about two per cent of cases – largely the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions.
The virus has killed more than 7,500 worldwide, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University.
In other news,Instagram has banned dangerous, reckless and insensitive coronavirus filters.
Criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by sending scam emails claiming to be from the WHO.
And, we debunked some of the most outrageous coronavirus conspiracy theories.
What do you think of this move by Facebook? Let us know in the comments!
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