#SocialThrowback2020: A look at how Facebook braved the pandemic with new features, updates & safety guidelines

Sanya Saxena
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#SocialThrowback2020: A look at how Facebook braved the pandemic with new features, updates & safety guidelines

We’ve put together a summary of everything you should know about Facebook 2020, from new updates for users, content creators, businesses to features that would help people deal with the pandemic.

Throughout 2020, a year that was full of unpredicted happenings and lots of being quarantined at home, Facebook proved to be a social media platform that kept people engaged by expanding its array of features for various content creators, publishers and businesses. It also played a major role in fighting the pandemic by trying to curb the spread of misinformation across the globe, helping people to be aware of necessary and relevant information about COVID-19 and facilitating smoother online conversations and virtual events for businesses and creators. Read on to learn more about how things fared at Facebook in 2020.

Facebook 2020 for Brands and Creators

Facebook rolled out a number of updates to benefit brands and creators. The Creator Studio mobile app was launched by Facebook to aid brands and creators to manage their content and track performance along with monitoring their earnings. 

The platform added more options for creators to earn and collect earnings, thus expanding the monetisation opportunities for users. One major update that Facebook made for advertisers was getting rid of less than 20 per cent text on ads guideline. While the content of the text needs to comply with the policies, the text of the ad can be more than 20 per cent.

Going Live on Facebook

With the pandemic impacting offline events across the globe, Facebook made it easier for businesses, creators and publishers to go Live on the platform. Paid Online Events feature was launched to help page owners host online events, conduct webinars, virtual concerts, training sessions and promote paid events.

Other updates added to Live videos included Closed Captions, tuning in Live sessions in an audio-only mode and expansion of Facebook Stars to help creators earn more from their live videos. 

Updated Messenger

With numerous beta versions and tests, Facebook came out with some major features including Messenger for kids and Vanish Mode for users, changing the outlook of Messenger. The much anticipated ‘Watch Together’ feature also rolled out in 2020 which one can use to stream content while they are in a video chat. Users also have access to personalise their chat themes to different backdrops and colours. 

Workplace by Facebook in 2020

Multiple new features and updates were announced for Workplace by Facebook to help organisations communicate better with their employees. Care reaction, an emoji hugging a heart, was brought to the Workplace.

Q&A posts for quick feedbacks, virtual rooms for users to hold team meetings and Live Producer, a way to go live from the desktop are among the many features that were introduced to the Workplace. While employees were abiding by the work from home policy, the new updates by Workplace were a big bonus in easing the flow of work.

Coping With COVID-19

Facebook’s relief efforts and the response to COVID-19 included a series of big steps taken by the social media platform. Facebook launched Fundraisers in India to financially assist those who were impacted by the pandemic. People got an option to choose from various charities and donate to them. The platform also announced that it will start removing content with misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines to stop the spread of rumours. 

Fight Against Misinformation

An alert notification, which would be displayed when a user is about to share an old article was announced. This was an important update as information around COVID-19 was getting redundant at a quick pace. The alert also mentioned the link's source and date as well as directed people to the COVID-19 information centre.

Updates for small businesses

Facebook launched ‘Facebook Shops’ to aid small businesses to enable online buying and selling. This feature was rolled out as more and more small businesses were looking to shift to the digital world. Businesses have the option to customise the look of their shop. The social media platform also announced that it has tied up with Matrix Partners India to provide digital skills and support to businesses. 

Facebook 2020

Here’s a month-wise update on Facebook 2020:

January 2020

  • Off-Facebook Activity tool launched to help users get control over data
  • Face ID app lock was added to Facebook Messenger
  • Political ad policy and ad library was updated
  • Updates for Instant Articles were introduced

February 2020

  • Creator Studio mobile app launched

March 2020

  • Mood mode was rolled out for Stories
  • Facebook Spark AR Effects reviews & publishing were suspended
  • More parental controls were added to Messenger for Kids
  • Political Branded Content dashboard was introduced 
  • Feature to turn 2D photos into 3D on Facebook launched

April 2020

  • Facebook Fundraisers launched in India to accelerate COVID-19 relief efforts
  • Messenger Rooms and Desktop Messenger app was launched
  • Multiple new features rolled out for Workplace 
  • Messenger Kids was launched in India
  • $5.7 billion invested by Facebook in Jio Platforms
  • Resources for educators launched to continue teaching online
  • The Indian government asked Facebook to remove users who were involved in spreading coronavirus misinformation
  • Facebook makes Live more accessible with new updates
  • New features for posting videos rolled out

May 2020

  • Updates for Creator Studio were announced
  • New video features introduced for Workplace by Facebook 
  • Lock Profile rolled out in India
  • Facebook Shops launched to aid Small Businesses
  • Facebook expanded brand safety controls for ad placements
  • Facebook announced members of the Global Oversight Board 
  • 9.6M pieces of hate speech content were acted upon by Facebook

June 2020

  • Facebook to alert users when they are about to share an old news article
  • Platform Updates announced: Training Program, Features of Live Producer, News Feed Preferences, Boost With Facebook Summer Of Support, Voting Information Centre & New options for Parenting Groups, News Tab, Business Inbox and Wikipedia Snippets
  • Ban on non-medical face masks lifted by Facebook
  • Facebook starts labelling state-controlled media on the platform
  • Testing: Sending marketing emails from Pages
  • New apps launched by Facebook: Venue, Collab, Messenger rooms, Catchup, Hobbi and Tuned
  • Manage Activity introduced for users

July 2020

  • New privacy settings introduced by Messenger 
  • Going Live now allowed from Messenger Rooms 
  • Facebook provides updates on content monetisation & brand safety controls
  • IPRS and Facebook sign music licensing deal
  • CBSE & Facebook partner to help students and educators
  • Platform Updates: TikTok clone Lasso shut down, Privacy breach, Mask Prompts, Dark Mode for Mobile
  • Algorithm for News Content changed 

August 2020

  • Personalisation features introduced by Messenger Rooms
  • Facebook Horizon opens up invite-only beta
  • Facebook News expanded to more countries
  • Facebook Shops get major updates, more controls, to boost buying & selling on all Facebook-owned platforms.
  • Facebook rolls out redesigned Ad Preferences
  • Updates: Group Metrics & Short Videos
  • Context is added to alerts on COVID-19 articles
  • Facebook Chat Plugin now enables more consumers to reach businesses
  • Official Music Videos introduced by Facebook in India

September 2020

  • Testing: Accounts Center for managing accounts across apps, Cross-posting Instagram Stories on the Facebook app, Making news subscriptions easier
  • Facebook and GroupM launch Media Playbook to aid brands
  • Facebook ties-up with VC Fund Matrix Partners India to support small businesses
  • Less than 20 per cent text rule removed for ads
  • Pro Tips Guide released for Creators
  • Rights Manager for Images, Ad limits per page, SMB Grants and Gift Cards, Online courses for community building & Forwarding limits introduced
  • Facebook expands tools for in-stream advertisers
  • Business Suite launched by Facebook
  • Option to test posts added in Creator Studio
  • Facebook India announces SMB Grants and Gift Cards
  • Watch Together launched by Messenger  
  • Campus for college students launched
  • New updates introduced in Watch for viewers and creators
  • Filters added to Search in Ad Library

October 2020

  • Cloud Playable Ads launched for Facebook Gaming
  • Dark mode for Workplace introduced 
  • New products to boost online shopping introduced 
  • Features for Durga Pujo 2020 launched 
  • Content made discoverable with Topics feature in Watch
  • Facebook to ban ads that discourage vaccine use
  • Messenger gets redesigned with new features 
  • New features launched to support LGBTQIA+ Community
  • Mental health resource centre, New features for Groups launched

November 2020

  • Feature to support charitable causes launched
  • Vanish Mode introduced for users by Messenger 
  • Monetisation opportunities for creators expanded 
  • Diwali themed Avatars & hashtags launched 
  • Facebook starts testing upvote & downvote on comments again

The year saw Facebook continually adapting itself to stay relevant in the lives of its users. The efforts put in by the tech giant to upgrade their offerings is bound to change the course of their trajectory in 2021, monetary and otherwise. It would interesting to see how things pan out.

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