Facebook will add a “Donate” button to its homepage this week to allow users to combat Ebola with donations to three West African charities dedicated to its treatment, the company said. In addition, Facebook will deploy 100 satellite Internet hotspots to the West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak to facilitate better phone and Internet communication.
“These units will provide connectivity in places where there is no coverage,” Chris Weasler, Facebook’s head of spectrum policy and connectivity planning, told the Associated Press. “In other cases, [they will be] adding more capacity to networks increasingly strained from the influx of responders.” The Internet terminals will allow quarantined individuals make contact with their families and Ebola health workers to contact home, he said.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s Ebola “Donate” button will allow users to contribute money to the International Medical Corps, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children. The Red Cross has raised nearly $3.7 million to fight Ebola globally.
Facebook stressed that its charity efforts did not have any business motive. “None. No. Really, our intention is to help stop Ebola,” Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s vice president of product management and Ebola button project lead, told Tech Crunch.
The social media company’s charitable efforts came weeks after founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated $25 million to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a bid to stem Ebola’s spread. “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.”
As of Nov. 2, Ebola had killed more than 4,800 people in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the CDC. The United States has experienced four confirmed cases of Ebola and one death.