Amid ongoing concerns around the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook has this week announced that it’s canceling the ‘in-person component’ of its annual F8 developer conference, which was planned to be held in San Jose on May 5th and 6th.
As explained by Facebook:
“Every year, we look forward to connecting with our global developer community at F8 and sharing our vision for the future that we’re building together. But given the growing concerns around Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 2020. 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.”
F8 is attended by hundreds of Facebook employees and other representatives every year, where the company presents its latest findings, developments and generally makes significant product announcements publicly for the first time.
The cancellation is a reminder of the seriousness of the coronavirus situation. F8 joins a growing list of events that have either been canceled or postponed due to the outbreak, including the Mobile World Congress, the Chinese Grand Prix and Fashion Week events in Milan, Paris, and China. Earlier this week, The International Olympic Committee also put a time frame on when it will decide whether to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games.
In a broader sense, the cancellation won’t have a major impact. Facebook will still make all of its presentations and announcements, just not in person – and for a company that touts its capacity to ‘connect the world’ virtually, it kind of makes sense that they operate a remote event anyway, in some respects. And while F8 conferences have been run every year since 2013, before that, the function was only run every other year, so it’s not a serious mainstay on the calendar.
Also, less travel means a lower carbon footprint, less environmental impact. It’s obviously not great news that Facebook is canceling its major event, but there are far worse impacts of the coronavirus outbreak to keep in mind.
Facebook also notes that it’s donating $500,000 to organizations serving local San Jose residents to help lessen the impact on the local economy. It’s covered all bases – it just means that attendees won’t be getting a free Oculus headset, and a chance to be in the room with Zuck himself for the keynote.