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Ahead of Hurricane Florence, Facebook helps communities with crisis response tool

Anyone who has ever checked out Facebook around the time of some kind of disaster — be it natural or otherwise –may have noticed people who were “checking in” as safe.

Maybe you just scrolled right on by them or perhaps you took a moment to see what, exactly, was going on. Chances are if you yourself were in or near the affected area, you paid close attention, with that being especially true if it was a close friend or family member who checked in.

For all the negative press surrounding Facebook, the Community Help tool is something that has been widely praised. And as Category 4 Hurricane Florence bears down on the southeastern United States, it is likely to be used a good amount in the coming days.

It has now come to Facebook Lite, and added more features

Facebook introduced Crisis Response as a way for people to mark themselves safe during an event, or to aid in giving or finding help for someone else. It can also help raise money for those who are affected through fundraising or donations, as well as be a way for relevant information to be dispersed.

Since its inception, the tool was available on both the Facebook site and through its app, but now it can be used with Facebook Lite, which uses less data and room than regular Facebook, as well as by organizations and businesses. Why the change?

Facebook explained in a blog post:

“Enabling organizations and businesses to post in Community Help will give them a new way to reach communities impacted by crises. For example, they might post about helping people find everything from free transportation to supplies and connecting volunteers with organizations that need help.”

Already groups like Direct Relief, Feeding America, Lyft and Save the Children have access, and Facebook plans on making it available to plenty more in the coming weeks.

How helpful is it really?

Facebook said the last year has seen people turn to Community Help for more than 500 different crises, including flooding in Brazil, Hurricane Harvey, a terrorist attack in Barcelona and an earthquake in Central Mexico.

Facebook users have engaged with it more than 750,000 times through posts, comments and messages, with Facebook saying the most frequented categories used are volunteer opportunities, shelter, food and clothing donations.

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