Facebook cancels F8 developer conference over coronavirus concerns

February 27, 2020, 7:10 PM UTC

Facebook has cancelled its annual developer conference, F8, amid rising concerns about the spread of the coronavirus

The company made the announcement on Thursday, saying in lieu of the event that typically draws thousands, it would host a combination of locally hosted events, videos, and live-streamed content.

“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,” reads a blog post by Facebook’s director of platform partnerships Konstantinos Papamiltiadis. 

The news comes as tech companies continue to grapple with whether to host and attend international events as the virus worsens globally. This week, the Center for Disease Control warned that the spread of the disease in the U.S. was only a matter of time and confirmed the first U.S. case of unknown origin in Northern California on Wednesday. Facebook had already cancelled its Global Marketing Summit scheduled for March, pulled out of the Game Developer Conference, and restricted its employees from traveling to China. 

The F8 conference is one of Facebook’s most anticipated events of the year. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team of executives use the annual event to map out their vision for the future, disclose priorities for the year, and announce major product updates and new services. The event was scheduled for May 5 and 6 in San Jose.

Last year at F8, Facebook pushed its new focus on privacy, boasting upcoming developments like encryption and ephemeral content. It also revealed the redesign of Facebook’s core service, updates to Instagram, and an upcoming rebuilt Messenger app. 

Facebook normally donates $250,000 from F8 ticket sales to an organization that aims to diversify the tech industry. Following the cancellation, the company says it will double that donation and prioritize organizations that serve San Jose residents. It also said in lieu of hosting local students at the event, the company plans to provide an “F8-inspired experience” for them instead.

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