Facebook cancels F8 conference over coronavirus fears

Mark Zuckerberg speaks.
Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook’s F8 summit in 2018.

Facebook is canceling its massive F8 developers’ conference over fears of COVID-19. The conference had been scheduled to begin on May 5 in San Jose, California.

“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,” wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms.

Facebook will attempt to compensate for the closure of the main event with “locally hosted events, videos, and live streamed content,” Papamiltiadis said.

In recent months, organizers of major international events have become increasingly skittish about the risk that their venues could aid the global spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the Mobile World Congress was canceled at the last minute over coronavirus concerns. Several major companies have also announced they are pulling out of the Game Developers Conference—though conference organizers have said the show will go forward.

In recent days, efforts to contain the coronavirus’ spread to China have been increasingly unsuccessful, with hundreds of people now infected in South Korea, Iran, and Italy, according to one tally.

The number of known cases in the United States remains fairly small—around 60. But on Thursday, authorities reported a possible first case of community spread: someone who contracted the coronavirus without traveling abroad or being in contact with other known carriers.


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