Facebook said Thursday it’s canceling its annual F8 developers’ conference, the social media giant’s biggest event of the year, over concerns about. The unusual move illustrates how the outbreak of respiratory illness COVID-19 is impacting the operations of the world’s largest tech companies.
Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference was scheduled to take place at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on May 5 and 6. It is a widely anticipated Facebook event, and last year attracted more than 5,000 developers, creators, and entrepreneurs from around the globe.
“This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world — but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, said in a statement.
Facebook’s decision to scrub F8 follows the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress, the giant mobile phone conference held in Barcelona. Concerns about the virus have affected other events, cancel the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.and the RSA Conference, which is currently taking place in San Francisco. Facebook, along with Sony and Microsoft, has also pulled out of the upcoming Game Developers Conference. Concerns about the virus have grown so great that the IOC is weighing if it might need to
The coronavirus, which was discovered in December in China, has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 82,000.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg deliver a keynote speech at F8, an opportunity for the company to explain how it is tackling problems from privacy to misinformation. Facebook has faced more scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators after revelations surfaced in 2018 that UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the data from up to 87 million users without their consent. In July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission hit Facebook with a record $5 billion fine for violating consumers’ privacy.
Instead of F8, Facebook said it’s planning to bring developers together through locally hosted events, videos, and live-streamed content.
Facebook didn’t provide details about when these gatherings would occur but said it would share more in the coming weeks.
Beyond tech events, the coronavirus has also impacted the supply of consumer electronic products, many of which are manufactured in China. Facebook said in February that the coronavirus would likely impact the production of its Oculus virtual reality headsets.and has shut down retail operations in China as a precaution.