Facebook has already taken a number of measures to help the global effort against the spread of the coronavirus, most recently by opening up its Messenger platform to governments, and in announcing plans to invest $100 million in small businesses around the world. Now, the platform says it will set aside an additional $100 million to support the news industry during the coronavirus crisis.
In a post on Facebook's Journalism Project portal, the company says it recognizes that ad revenues are declining "at a time when journalism is needed more than ever," and that its funding will be used to help journalists cover important stories "when we all need them most." Of the grant, $25 million will be set aside as emergency funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million will be given as additional marketing spend to move money to news organizations around the world.
The first round of grants have already been given to 50 local newsrooms in the US and Canada. The Post and Courier in South Carolina used its grant to take down its paywall for coronavirus-related stories, for example, while Southeast Missourian is using the money to help bolster its remote work technology.
The funding program is the latest move by Facebook to help fortify reliable news coverage during this uncertain time. At the end of February the platform started banning ads promoting coronavirus "cures," and later offered the World Health Organization free ads to counter misinformation surrounding the outbreak.