The spread of the coronavirus is impacting major tech conferences. 


Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook said Monday that it’s withdrawing from the SXSW conference because of coronavirus concerns, a move that comes shortly after Twitter announced it wasn’t attending the tech and culture event either. 

“Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. 

The spokesperson said it didn’t have any additional details when asked how many employees were expected to attend SXSW. The big annual conference was scheduled from March 13 to March 21 in Austin, Texas. The drop in participation from major tech companies raises questions about whether SXSW will be cancelled weeks before it’s scheduled to kick off. 

Business Insider, which reported earlier about Facebook’s decision, said that SXSW organizers said earlier today that the event was still going on as scheduled. Last year, SXSW brought in more than 400,000 attendees from 105 countries.

Facebook’s decision wasn’t a big surprise. The company cancelled F8, its developer conference in San Jose because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, the company plans to host local events and stream videos. The move also follows the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, the giant mobile phone conference held in Barcelona and the postponement of Game Developers Conference. On Monday, Google also said that its Cloud Next event in April will be held virtually this year with live streamed keynotes and sessions. 

The coronavirus, which was found in China in December, has sicken more than 90,200 people and at least 3,081 people have died. The virus causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19.

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