Earlier today, Facebook announced that it is expanding the Community Help feature, a place for people to request or offer help to neighbors, such as volunteering to deliver groceries or donating to a local food pantry or fundraiser.
The feature originally appeared on Facebook in 2017 to help people aftermath of natural or man-made disasters. It will be starting to roll out in the US, the UK, France, Australia, and more countries in the coming weeks.
You can get to Facebook’s Community Help section via the COVID-19 Information Center that sits at the top of the News Feed, or by heading to facebook.com/covidsupport. Once there, you can filter by posts that are offering or requesting help, and you can also select which kinds of help you’re looking for with categories like baby supplies, transport, or food. Individual posts list how far away the person is from you, and you can then respond with a comment publicly, or reply privately.
A similar feature is Help Map which was launched two weeks ago by the neighborhood social network and Facebook competitor Nextdoor. But, Facebook has some differences from its neighbor such as allowing users to request and offer help. Meanwhile, the Help Map allows people to list themselves as being able to offer assistance to someone in need or as being in need of aid.
If you’re considering offering to help via Facebook’s new feature, then be sure to follow the advice of health authorities like the WHO or CDC by, for example, washing your hands regularly and following social distancing advice. Most importantly, be sure to follow self-isolation guidelines if you or anyone you’ve recently interacted with has had any flu-like symptoms. It might feel good to help your neighbors, but you could be doing more harm than good if you’re risking passing on an infection.