With billions of people around the world self-isolating at home, Facebook’s mission—to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together—has more meaning and power than ever before.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, I saw Facebook as an important part of connecting people who couldn’t meet in person. Now many are turning to Facebook as their primary way to connect with their loved ones and neighbors during this challenging period. From virtual birthday parties and weddings, safaris and museum visits, technology is helping people and businesses cope with a radical disruption to daily life.
Facebook’s mission is being put to the test, as are the missions of every technology company in the world. As the sales leader for the technology vertical at Facebook, I’m particularly proud of how the technology industry is pushing its platforms and resources even farther—and putting competitive impulses aside—to find solutions to a global challenge of unprecedented scope, together.
Technology rises to the occasion
It became clear early on that like every person staying home, every employer fighting hard to keep staff and deliver for customers and every essential worker showing up on the front lines of this pandemic, Facebook must also rise to the occasion. We’re doing a lot, but here are just a few of my favorite stories and examples of what our company and platform are supporting:
- A resource page where people can ask for help or offer to lend a hand to those in need in their local communities.
- Facebook Groups like Quarantine Sing-Along, which a San Francisco resident created to keep a sense of community while sheltering in place. Every day at 7 p.m., neighbors check the Group to see the song of the day, then open their windows and sing that song together on their balconies or porches. This Group is one of many that people are creating on Facebook all over the world.
- Voice and video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp have more than doubled in places hit hardest by COVID-19. In Italy specifically, messaging increased over 50% and time in group calling increased by over 1,000% from late February to late March.
- Aggregated and anonymized Facebook data and tools, including mobility data and population density maps, have helped researchers better understand how this virus spreads and how to stop it.
- A $100 million commitment to support small businesses while making it easier for people to find ways to help their local businesses on our platforms and apps.
Technology comes together to take action
While I’m proud of Facebook’s response, I’m also thrilled that we’re far from the only technology company taking action. Here are just some examples of companies contributing to COVID-19 relief and research.
SAP made the SAP Ariba Discovery network available to give all buyers the ability to post their immediate sourcing needs and grant any supplier the ability to show how they can help address supply chain disruption. One SAP customer who used SAP’s platform secured 500 hospital beds in less than 30 minutes. In addition, SAP’s Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse platform is helping over 7,000 organizations keep a pulse on how their employees are managing and understand how to support them.
Salesforce has made access to its Health Cloud patient relationship management platform free for qualified emergency response teams, call centers and health care management teams. Tableau, which Salesforce acquired in 2019, has built a free data resource hub, pulling near-real-time case data from Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dyson designed and built a new kind of ventilator for COVID-19 patients in 10 days. And in another example of how Dyson is engaging with customers in ways that are true to the brand’s scientific and experimental roots, the company released challenge cards for children and students to use while learning from home.
Samsung donated smartphones to quarantined patients so they can keep in touch with families and friends and tablets to educational institutions so children can continue to learn while sheltering in place.
“As we live and navigate through this unprecedented period, SAP is leading with our purpose– to help the world run better and improve people’s lives—by opening up our technology to help overcome today’s most pressing challenges,” said Alicia Tillman, SAP’s global CMO.
The best news of all is that the tech industry is coordinating its efforts so that it can truly show up in the biggest way for the world. In mid-March, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube made a joint statement committing to working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. And in partnership with The Ad Council, Facebook joined Amazon, Apple, Google, Twitter, TikTok and many other tech and digital companies in delivering essential COVID-19 messaging and custom public service announcements from celebrities and influencers.
“Countless digital and technology partners—who could view each other as competitors—have come together and generously donated their media and creative talents to connect millions of Americans to critical, life-saving messages to help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Laurie Keith, vice president of media, social and emerging at The Ad Council.
None of us know for certain what the upcoming months and years have in store. But as I look at the technology industry’s collaborative response to this crisis, I have renewed hope that whatever the future brings, we’re going to take it on together. For so long we’ve been discussing what it means to use technology for good. Now, we have a chance to show the world what that looks like. Let’s do this.