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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Now Wants You to Donate to Fight Ebola

Facebook will surface a donate button for users over the next week in the hope they contribute to the fight against Ebola.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened up his wallet last month to help fight Ebola, and now he’s asking Facebook’s 1.3 billion users to do the same.

The social network will publish a donate button across the top of its users’ News Feeds beginning Thursday, as part of the company’s effort to quell the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Facebook will prompt users to make a donation and then share that news with others on the service in the hope of spreading the word, explains Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s VP of product management.

When Zuckerberg donated $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation last month to fight Ebola, for example, his post announcing the donation was Liked almost 300,000 times.

With Thursday’s donation button, which will live on the site for about a week, users can direct their money to three different charities: The American Red Cross, the International Medical Corps and Save the Children.


The company is also donating 100 wireless hotspots to areas in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where first responders are stationed. The hotspots will provide voice and data services to those on the ground, says Chris Weasler, head of spectrum policy and connectivity planning.

Facebook is also utilizing its ad technology to target specific users with educational materials about Ebola. For example, users in Sierra Leone will see explanatory messages from UNICEF, a United Nations relief organization, in their feed as part of an educational push, says Gleit.

While Africa is a much smaller market for Facebook than North America, Europe or Asia, more than 100 million people there use Facebook every month, roughly half of the continent’s Internet users.

And while Ebola is an obvious area of focus now, Facebook wants to make these kinds of humanitarian efforts more often, says Gleit. “It’s part of a larger effort to do more [in the future],” she added.

Facebook has done this before. After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines late last year, the social network prompted users to donate to relief organizations. People have also used the service to promote causes like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, though Facebook itself didn’t orchestrate those efforts.

The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,800 people, the majority of which are in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

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