July 15, 2024

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Facebook scales back alternatives to F8 developers conference amid coronavirus outbreak

Image by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

The coronavirus outbreak prompted the cancellation of tech conferences such as F8.

Angela Lang/CNET

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Facebook said Thursday that it’s no longer planning to host local events in place of its F8 developer conference, which was cancelled in February over concerns about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, the company is going to do a series of updates throughout the year and the first one will take place soon. Facebook didn’t provide an exact date.

“Because we can’t come together in person for F8 this year, Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook leaders will do a series of updates throughout the year to share what we’re working on to help people connect, as well as updates to our developer products, where applicable,” Facebook said in a statement.

In February, Facebook said it was planning to bring developers together through locally hosted events, videos and live streamed content. But that was before shelter-in-place orders were put into place.

“Given the shelter in place, locally hosted events aren’t really an option at the moment and since our first update will be soon, there won’t be a locally hosted event component for that,” a Facebook spokesperson said. 

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg also said in a post on Thursday that the company will require most of its employees to work from home through at least the end of May. The company is also canceling any large physical events the social network had planned with 50 or more people through June 2021.

“We’re slowing our plans to return to the office in order to prioritize helping the rest of our community and local economy to get back up and running first,” he said.

Facebook’s mostly annual conference was scheduled to take place at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on May 5 and 6. It is a widely anticipated Facebook event, and last year attracted more than 5,000 developers, creators and entrepreneurs worldwide. 

Facebook has used F8 to announce new services such as a dating feature, a virtual reality headset and chatbots for its messaging app. Company executives have also provided a glimpse into Facebook’s moonshot projects such as a brain computer interface that would allow users to type with their mind. Zuckerberg typically delivers a keynote speech during the event, providing an opportunity for the company to explain how it is tackling problems from privacy to misinformation.

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