The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced people to stay indoors away from their loved ones last year, has proven to be a catalyst for the growing importance of online communities across the globe.
According to a recent study titled ‘The Power of Virtual Communities’ conducted by the Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in partnership with Facebook, 91 percent of the respondents globally were able to provide some form of support through online groups, whether it was helping local vulnerable residents with their groceries during the lockdown, sharing vital information from health authorities, emotional support or providing financial support to local businesses.
The study also found that 92 percent of participants in India had received some form of support through online community groups during the pandemic. Nearly, 38.8 percent of people in India said that the significance of online groups increased as compared to responses from the rest of the world, which stood at 29.5 percent.
Interestingly, the report also found that more than 1.8 billion people across the globe use Facebook groups every month, while more than half of all users are in five or more groups, and over 70 million admins and moderators are running Facebook Groups.
“Digital communities have brought people together around a shared trait or interest and have become spaces for people to find compassion and support. This report and its findings reaffirm our mission of connecting people and bringing the world closer together and online communities continue to be a big part of that mission.”
Additionally, the study revealed that more than 5.5 million people in India are part of active parenting groups on Facebook. It also showed that at least 43.8 percent of Indians find a sense of belonging in online groups and that 42.1 percent of Indians’ most important group is online.
The report also said that while more research is needed to understand whether and how Facebook groups will function as genuine communities over the long term, it further recognizes the increasing importance of these communities and their leaders and why it is important to support and help them build, grow, and scale their communities.