- Facebook canceled its annual F8 developers' conference due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, per an announcement posted on the company's blog on Thursday. The conference was scheduled for May 5-6 in San Jose, California.
- The social media giant plans to connect with its community of software developers in other ways, including a combination of locally hosted events, videos and livestreamed content. The company will provide more details about those plans in the coming weeks, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of platform partnerships, wrote in the post.
- Facebook's F8 conference has served as a primary way to announce new services and features for its family of apps, which include its main social network, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. About 5,000 people attended the event last year, according to CNBC.
Facebook's decision to cancel F8 reflects an abundance of caution as infections of the deadly coronavirus spread beyond China, raising alarms about the possibility of a global epidemic. The cancellation removes a closely watched stage for the social media giant to announce new products and services at a time when it's pushing more heavily into areas like commerce and strengthening data privacy.
Facebook has plenty of other ways to get its message across a number of media channels and connect with developers through local events and digital platforms, but the lack of a single large venue could curtail some hype or lead to more fragmented messaging. Last year, Facebook used F8 to highlight a redesigned mobile app with a greater focus on privacy and visual stories, a revamped Messenger and a "shop the look" feature for Instagram, among other announcements.
F8 is the second conference Facebook has canceled in the past month because of concerns about the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19. The social network two weeks ago announced it wouldn't host its annual global marketing summit, which was scheduled for March 9-12 in San Francisco. That conference also would have had about 5,000 attendees, including people from other countries where travel has been restricted because of the outbreak.
These developments follow the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona, the mobile industry's biggest yearly conference. MWC Barcelona typically attracts more than 100,000 attendees, and it's closure so far has been more consequential to the mobile industry.
Calling off the confab set off a scramble among device makers and app developers to find other ways to showcase their wares to cellular companies, electronics retailers and the press. Until health officials get a better grasp on coronavirus, many event organizers may see companies withdraw participation from industry events.