Facebook today announced the cancellation of its annual F8 developer conference due to fears over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The annual conference was scheduled to take place in San Jose, California on May 5-6. Facebook announced the cancellation in a blog post Thursday morning.
The company’s platform partnerships director, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, wrote:
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. We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.
Approximately 5,000 people attended F8 in 2019 – about a thousand more than in 2017 and 2018. This year’s event will be replaced by a series of regional developer and student meet-ups, according to the company’s blog post.
It appears as though Facebook isn’t taking any chances. It previously canceled a marketing summit in Silicon Valley that was supposed to take place in March and pulled out of both the Global Developers Conference and PAX East over coronavirus concerns.
US officials warn that the coronavirus may not be containable. Facebook joins a growing number of big tech companies who’ve either canceled or withdrawn from conferences. Other Silicon Valley businesses, such as Microsoft and Apple, expect significant financial losses due to manufacturing and shipping delays related to the virus.
Worse, the threat could persist through next year’s conference season. Experts currently believe an effective vaccine could take 12-18 months to develop. If coronavirus isn’t containable – due to the fact that numerous carriers present with mild symptoms while the disease is highly contagious – we could be in for a lengthy pandemic.
In the meantime, it’s important for travelers to understand the scope of the outbreak. The coronavirus has affected more than 82,000 people so far and has appeared in more than 40 countries.
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