Facebook pitching in on Puerto Rico relief effort

Facebook (FB) is dispatching employees to Puerto Rico to help restore telecommunications services on the hurricane-battered island, as well as contributing funds to the recovery effort.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the social networking site that Facebook is sending its connectivity team to Puerto Rico, which faces a growing humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“With 90 percent of cell towers on the island out of service, people can’t get in touch with their loved ones — and it’s harder for rescue workers to coordinate relief efforts,” the Facebook co-founder said. 

Zuckerberg also said Facebook will donate a total of $1.5 million to NetHope, which links not-for-profit groups with tech experts, and the World Food Programme, a U.N. anti-hunger program. In addition, the internet company is allowing organizations to run ads on its site with information on where people in the region can get help. 

Nearly a week after Maria hit Puerto Rico, the island’s 3.4 million people are coping with spotty telecom service and widespread power outages. Electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month, according to local officials.  

The delay in getting basic services up and running is causing frustration, with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz complaining about what she sees as a slow response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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Source: CBS News – Science/Tech

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