Facebook has debuted a series of awareness programs and educational sessions to teach about and celebrate the contributions made by Black business owners around the world. The social media giant’s new “Black Business August” initiative is in partnership with the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. and will include webinars on topics such as “building a thriving community online” and guest host programs focusing on different industries including health, fashion, and finance. The events are spread throughout the month and will feature appearances from several notable Black business owners and Chambers members. Interested attendees can register for any of the free events through Facebook’s Black Business August microsite.
With the Coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affecting Black workers—economically and health wise—Facebook’s new initiative could help highlight and digitally support Black-owned businesses. As in-person events are still not possible during the ongoing crisis, hosting the month-long program online gives more users a chance to join and a prolonged opportunity for Facebook to advertise the events to a wider audience. However, Black Business August arrives during a turbulent time for Facebook. The tech giant faced an advertising boycott from hundreds of well-known brands in July in retaliation for its lack of hate speech policies—particularly when it came to race issues—and its continuing inability to identify inappropriate content, according to a Gartner report. Though many brands ended their boycotts at the beginning of August, the commotion remains top of mind for many users, who could question the timing of Facebook’s new Black-business supporting initiative.
Facebook is using its platform to bring awareness to the struggles many Black business workers are facing during the Coronavirus pandemic. While the initiative could help put a much-needed spotlight on Black businesses globally, it could also help Facebook rehabilitate its image as a brand that supports the Black community.