Companies and nonprofits can now post on Facebook's Community Help during a crisis

In the last year, since the social media company launched its Community Help tool, people have also used Facebook to ask for emergency assistance and aid, or offer help to those who've been affected. When crisis strikes, Facebook users often turn to the platform to let friends and family know they're safe. 

Now Community Help is getting another feature: Businesses and nonprofits can post about relief services and volunteer opportunities while connecting with victims in need. Lyft, Chase, Direct Relief, Feeding America, Save the Children, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire are among the first organizations and businesses to get the feature. 

RELATED: 25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine
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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nov. 20, 1999 - Deming Middle School, New Mexico 

(photo by Joe Raedle)

 February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School, Michigan 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Middle School, Florida 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School, California 

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/RCS

April 25, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reuters 

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School, Minnesota 

Photo Credit: Getty 

March 21, 2005. Red Lake High School, Minnesota

REUTERS/John Gress 

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Tennessee 

Photo Credit: Getty 

 Aug. 24, 2006 - Essex Elementary School, Vermont

 Photo Credit: Getty 

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Wisconsin 

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

October 2, 2006 - West Nickel Mines School, Pennsylvania 

(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Nebraska 

Photo Credit: Getty

February 27, 2012 - Chardon High School, Ohio

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk 

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut 

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

October 21, 2013 - Sparks Middle School, Nevada. 

(Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

December 13, 2013 -  Arapahoe High School, Colorado

REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

June 10, 2014  - Reynolds High School, Oregon

(Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

October 24, 2014 -  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Washington

REUTERS/Jason 

February 12, 2016 - Independence High School, Arizona 

Photo Credit: Getty 

September 28, 2016 - Townville Elementary, South Carolina

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School, California 

 (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School, Washington

Photo Credit: Getty 

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School, Kentucky

REUTERS/Harrison McClary

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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"Enabling organizations and businesses to post in Community Help will give them a new way to reach communities impacted by crises," Asha Sharma, product lead of Social Good for Facebook, wrote in a blog post announcing the update.  

Sharma said in an interview that participating companies and organizations could help with preparing for a disaster, survival during a crisis, and recovery afterward. In particular, they may be able to address needs like shelter, transportation, and food. 

Lyft, for example, offered "relief rides" during Hurricanes Irma and Harvey to provide safe transportation to local survivors. The company partnered with local governments, shelters, and hospitals to reach people. Now, according to a statement released by Mike Masserman, head of social impact at Lyft, the company can also use Community Help to provide rides directly to those who need them during a crisis. 

The feature makes it possible for businesses to see requests for help and to respond to or message directly with the user. They can also post requests for volunteers in specific areas. 

That engagement will be key to effectively reaching people via Community Help, which has logged more than 750,000 posts, comments, and messages for over 500 different crises, since its launch a year ago.

Sharma said that only companies and organizations with a verified Page can post to Community Help. Facebook is watching the update closely for any signs that people might be misusing the feature to scam or mislead crisis survivors and those who want to volunteer their time and resources during the aid and recovery process. 

Facebook's goal, said Sharma, is to help companies and organizations find out not just where disaster survivors are, but what they actually need. That information, she added, is data that Facebook felt a "responsibility" to share so that communities could mobilize in a time of crisis.

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