To combat social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions due to COVID-19, Canadian communities began a Facebook social media movement, #Caremongering, to support vulnerable individuals in their communities. Little research has examined the spread and use of #Caremongering to address community health and social needs.
We examined the rate at which #Caremongering grew across Canada, the main ways the groups were used, and differences in use by membership size and activity.
We searched Facebook Groups using the term “Caremongering” combined with the names of the largest population centres in every province and territory in Canada. We extracted available Facebook analytics on all the groups found, restricted to public groups that operated in English. We further conducted a content analysis of themes from postings in 30 groups using purposive sampling. Posted content was qualitatively analyzed to determine consistent themes across the groups and between those with smaller and larger member numbers.
The search of Facebook groups across 185 cities yielded 130 unique groups, including groups from all 13 provinces and territories in Canada. Total membership across all groups as of May 4, 2020 was 194,879. The vast majority were formed within days of the global pandemic announcement, two months prior. There were four major themes identified: personal protective equipment, offer, need, and information. Few differences were found between how large and small groups were being used.
The #Caremongering Facebook groups spread across the entire nation in a matter of days, engaging hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Social media appears to be a useful tool for spreading community-led solutions to address health and social needs.