Just in time for hurricane season, Facebook is here to help.
On Monday, Facebook announced that it was expanding its Community Help features to Facebook Lite, the company’s data-conserving android app initially created for use on older phones and in developing countries.
Community Help is an extension of Facebook’s Safety Check that launched in January 2017. It allows people to mark themselves “safe” in the wake of disasters, and becomes a hub where people can ask for, receive, and give help.
The extension of the Community Help capability to Facebook Lite makes a lot of sense. Facebook Lite works on older 2G networks, and requires less power and bandwidth to run. So during certain times, such as disasters, when networks may be down or overcrowded, Facebook Lite could actually be a lifeline.
It is also a great next step for Facebook’s work in the developing world. Though Facebook Lite is now available in many developed countries including the U.S., Facebook initially created the network for use in countries where internet connection was less stable. These countries, many in South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa, also happen to be some of the most vulnerable to terrorist attacks and natural disasters (thanks to climate change). So expanding the Community Help feature to places where people may in fact have dire need for it — and places where they’re already actually using the app — means this new capability could have a meaningful impact.
Of course, a power source and even a 2G network are no guarantee in the midst of a major crisis. But during times when people are desperate for information and resources, Community Help via Facebook Lite could have the ability to actually come through with something good.