"The work that you do is not only helping people connect online, but forming new communities that couldn't have existed before, that span geographies," said Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
More than 400 community leaders are in town to network and celebrate each other's successes at the third annual Facebook Communities Summit. St. Louis resident Dasha Kennedy previously worked at a bank, but was inspired to create a Facebook group called "The Broke Black Girl" to help provide financial literacy and career advancement resources to women.
"I know a lot about finances, but even I need someone else to lean on, so I started the group about a year ago," said Kennedy. "Within one year it's grown to 53,000 women, 96 countries, and 32 states."
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In the past year, Facebook has faced increasing concerns about fake news and data privacy. Those struggles were acknowledged by company executives.
"The bad can be loud, and the bad can have really, really bad impacts, and so as a company, we're incredibly focused on running our company differently," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg."We fundamentally changed the investments we've made-- how we think about what we do everyday."
Facebook announced Thursday new tools to help group administrators grow and manage their communities, as well as a new mentorship program to help users connect on a more personal level. Company officials also unveiled a new feature that will allow users in the United States to sign up as a blood donor.
#FCS2019: @facebook’s Ime Archibong announces new product updates to help admins invest, engage, & manage — they’re also launching a pilot program that lets groups & brands collaborate, expand subscription groups to more partners & allow relevant pages to join their communities. pic.twitter.com/6mJbqSrHhe— Chris Nguyen (@ChrisNguyenABC7) February 7, 2019
"We ultimately want to make sure that physical distance isn't a barrier to emotional proximity," said Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president of product partnerships.
During the social network's most recent earnings call, company executives shared that there are now approximately 2.7 billion people using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month.