Facebook gives $100M in grants, ads to small businesses hit by coronavirus

"We want to do our part," COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a post announcing the initiative.

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Facebook is looking to help small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Angela Lang/CNET

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to impact communities around the world, Facebook said it would be offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for "up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate."

"People across the globe are stepping up, rising to the enormous challenge in front of us," COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a post. "We want to do our part too."

As the COVID-19 outbreak escalates, our focus has been on keeping people safe and informed by making sure everyone has...

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

In the Tuesday post, Sandberg praised small businesses, calling them the "heartbeat of our communities" and acknowledging that many had been forced to change their operations because of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. "The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees," she wrote.

In an interview with CBS This Morning on Wednesday, Sandberg reiterated the message. "These are unprecedented times, maybe the defining time of a century," Sandberg told host Gayle King, about the initiative. "Small businesses all around the world are really struggling." (Note: CBS and CNET are owned by the same parent company.)

Sandberg said the company is working to remove misinformation around the coronavirus. 

"For this crisis, any fake information is down. It is down no matter who the source is," she said. "If it's harmful and it's fake it's down." 

Sandberg didn't say whether the policy will extend to the 2020 political campaigns and false ads when pushed by King. "When it comes to generalized political speech ... we think that, as one company, being the arbiter of truth is too much power," Sandberg responded.  

According to Facebook's small business website, the goal of the grant program is to help small businesses with rent and operational costs, supporting employees and connecting with customers. 

The news is the latest cash contribution from Facebook during the coronavirus crisis. Last week the company announced it was pledging $20 million towards global relief efforts

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