May 11, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Snapchat to offer in-app domestic violence support

Ina Fried, author of Login

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat and Twilio are both announcing new efforts Monday to provide support for people affected by domestic violence and mental health concerns in response to a swell in demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: Online services and crisis lines are being asked to shoulder a greater share of the burden of responding to people's needs at a moment when other types of direct service are harder to access.

  • Snapchat is partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence to include more resources for users dealing with domestic violence as well as those who want to support a friend who is in such a situation. The resources, part of Snapchat's broader Here For You initiative, will also be available in subtitles for those who don’t feel comfortable or safe viewing content with the sound on.
  • Twilio is announcing $2 million in cash grants for organizations that are provide support services during the pandemic via voice, text or chat. The new program builds on past grants the company has made to crisis hotlines.

Twilio, a digital phone services provider whose tech powers many of the nation's crisis hotlines, said it has seen usage by such services increase 20% since the pandemic began, with volume more than doubling at some hotlines, such as Crisis Text Line.

What they're saying:

  • Snapchat's VP of public policy Jen Stout: “Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our community. We hope these new resources will give Snapchatters and their loved ones the help and support they need to stay both physically and emotionally safe while following shelter in place and other public health guidelines.”
  • Twilio chief social impact officer Erin Reilly: "The additional impact on people from COVID, such as depression, abuse and hunger, are significant. We want to help the organizations on the front line. The people who are providing crisis support on these hotlines are some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”

Go deeper

Cities' budget woes worsen with increased social unrest

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cities were already furloughing workers and considering cutting back essential services — including public safety — because of the dramatic drops in the local tax revenue that funds them. Now they're also dealing with turmoil in their streets.

Why it matters: "Unfortunately, the increasing levels of social unrest across the country reallocated efforts and scarce resources away from the former focus of getting state, regional and local economies back to some semblance of normalcy," per Tom Kozlik, head of municipal strategy and credit at HilltopSecurities.

Updated 11 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

13 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.