Hampton Roads connecting more via Facebook to find PPE, open restaurants, religion


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Facebook was enormously popular even before we started using words like “sheltering” and “distancing.” The pandemic has made the online community an even bigger part of life in the time of COVID-19.

From chapel to chat room, do-it-yourself to delivery, during the pandemic, Facebook has kept us wired to each other in virtually every facet of life. We use it to find everything, from personal protective equipment to salvation.

Facebook has become the place to go when we have no place to go.

Platform management says one of the early and ongoing rally points was people wanting to show support for restaurants.

“One of the first things we noticed was a lot of folks had the desire to help small businesses,” said Erica Woods, one of Facebook’s regional public policy managers. “They were really hit hard right away by this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hampton Roads Restaurants – Take Out & Delivery Options” connects 57,000 members with area restaurants that do take out and delivery.

Looking for masks? “Hampton Roads Masks” will tell you where to get them, how to wear them, and how to make them. Members say this group helped them when no one else could.

Grocery Stores Hampton Roads helps people locate hard-to-find items that seem all too elusive when we’re walking the aisles.

And of course, there’s virtual church, with area congregations doing live Facebook services and virtual gatherings.

“A lot of people are really depending on Facebook for religious resources, trying to connect with their local churches,” Woods said.

But not every new Facebook idea spawned by COVID-19 is a blessing. Woods says their content monitors are busy squelching people trying to push potions and miracle cures.

“We actually take down millions of posts per day of information that is proven to be inaccurate about COVID,” Woods said.

In a way, the pandemic has been a double-edged sword for Facebook — usage is way up, but many of its small business advertisers will be spending less as they try to survive.

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