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(Australian Associated Press)
The eyes of the world fell upon Australia during the unprecedented 2019-20 bushfire season, according to social media giant Facebook.
The platform’s 2020 year in review, released on Tuesday, found people all over the world rallied to Australia’s aid in its hour of need, with more than 2.5 million people worldwide donating to Australian bushfire relief.
A fundraiser established via Facebook by Australian comedian Celeste Barber raised a record $51 million, with funds ultimately going to the NSW Rural Fire Service after failed attempts to redirect money to fire-hit communities.
Worldwide, more than $100 million was raised via Facebook for issues associated with climate change, ocean health and animal protection.
Elsewhere, Facebook said the week ending in Easter Sunday on April 6 – at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave in Australia and elsewhere – broke records for group video call usage.
The end of Ramadan in May similarly caused the number of WhatsApp video calls to spike.
Live broadcasts of religious services also hit a record high in 2020.
“(The year) 2020 has undoubtedly been a tough year for many Australians, with fires, floods, and COVID-19 all leaving their mark,” Facebook Australia and NZ director of policy Mia Garlick said in a statement.
“As physical distancing became the norm, we came together online – seeking out ways to form connections, celebrate cultural milestones, and give back to important causes.”
Globally, conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement tripled in the three weeks following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May, while the January death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant in California was the most-discussed moment on Facebook in 2020.