Until now, Facebook's response to the coronavirus outbreak has focused on fighting the spread of misinformation -- by offering free WHO ads and banning ads that promote false 'cures.' Now, Facebook plans to invest $100 million in 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where its employees work and live. Facebook is also giving $1,000 bonuses to each of its employees, CNBC reports.
For the small businesses, the financial assistance will come in the form of cash grants and ad credits. Those are meant to help businesses stay afloat as more customers stay home, and Facebook intends for the aid to be used to pay workers who can't come to work, help with rent costs, enable businesses to connect with more customers and contribute to overhead costs.
Facebook will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In the meantime, interested businesses can sign up to receive more information, and Facebook has made its Business Hub available to all. There, businesses can find ideas and advice for managing during the downturn that the coronavirus pandemic has led to.
"Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and many of the people who run these businesses are heavily affected by the crisis -- especially as more and more people sensibly stay home," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a statement. "The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees."
Facebook also told employees that they will each receive a $1,000 bonus to support them during the coronavirus pandemic. As CNBC, notes Facebook employees nearly 45,000 full-time workers and several thousand contractors. It's unclear if contractors will also receive the bonus.
Sandberg says Facebook was inspired by other people around the world "rising to the enormous challenge in front of us." Food delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and Seamless are waiving or suspending some fees for independent restaurants, and gig-economy companies are looking for ways to support workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined. So far, Facebook is one of few large companies to pledge grants for small businesses or outright employee bonuses -- though Amazon is temporarily increasing its warehouse and delivery workers' hourly rates.
Update 3/17/2020 12:00PM ET: This story was updated to include info related to Facebook's employee bonuses.