Facebook cancels F8 developer conference over coronavirus concerns

Nathan Ingraham
Deputy Managing Editor
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Facebook is the latest tech company to cancel an event due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company's annual developer conference, F8, was scheduled for May 5th and 6th, but it's not going to happen this year. Facebook said that the "growing concerns around COVID-19" made it necessary to cancel the "in-person" component of F8, though the company is planning locally-hosted events and livestreamed content to try and make up for skipping the main part of the conference. Facebook is also donating $500,000 to an organization that promotes diversity in the tech industry -- most years, the company donates a portion of ticket sales, but with no in-person event it's just making a flat donation instead.

Of course, Facebook is hardly the first to make such a move. MWC, which takes place in Barcelona at the end of February, was cancelled after multiple high-profile companies pulled out. Similarly, many companies are deciding to pass up on exhibiting at the GDC conference in San Francisco next month -- Sony, Facebook and Microsoft have all decided not to participate.

At this point, it's fair to wonder if some of the spring's other marquee tech events, like Microsoft Build and Google I/O, will be happening. These cancellations we've seen thus far this year highlight how the global health community doesn't quite have a handle on the coronavirus spread, something that's probably making participants and organizers alike reluctant to take part in events like F8.