Facebook releases $100m as part of SMB support measures

The package also includes service impact listings and a gift card registry

Facebook is offering small and medium-sized businesses cash grants worth a total of $100 million (£81.5 million), in addition to a package of measures to help them survive the effects of COVID-19.

The company’s small business grants programme will see $40 million (£32.6 million) in cash distributed to 10,000 US businesses, in collaboration with third-party partner Ureeka.

The distribution of these cash grants will begin with businesses based across 34 locations in which the company's US employees currently live and work.

The remaining funds will be available for businesses across 29 other countries in which Facebook operates, with further details about the scheme coming soon.

Facebook has also begun rolling out a gift cards scheme for businesses to distribute digitally through their page on the social media platform.

People can find an option to support local businesses with digital gift cards in their News Feed, with the social network also planning to bring this function to Instagram.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses everywhere,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. “Suddenly and, through no fault of their own, many simply can’t do business, and for others it has become much, much harder because customers are doing the right thing and staying at home.”

“In this challenging time, when information is changing daily, we are listening to and learning from scores of small businesses to understand what they need now and what they will need down the road.”

These measures are in addition to new fundraising mechanics for businesses on Facebook, as well as the capacity to add information about temporary service changes, so any disruption or resumption of normal service are beamed to users as announcements.

The company joins a host of other tech giants looking to support hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses struggling under the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A stream of companies have offered free software licenses and extended trials in areas ranging from cyber security to remote working and collaboration, including industry giants like Kaspersky, Oracle, and Microsoft.

In a complete break from its policies of the past, Facebook has also moved to remove disinformation and fake news related to COVID-19 from its platform in a far more aggressive way than many may have anticipated.

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