Facebook Inc said on Thursday it would cancel its annual developer conference due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
"..given the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 2020," Facebook said.
F8 is an important event for Facebook, and it is held in San Jose, California. Every year, Facebook donates a portion of F8 ticket sales to an organization working to diversify the tech industry. This year, the company is doubling that donation amount to $500,000 and will prioritize organizations serving local San Jose residents.
Facebook says it is planning other ways for the community to get together through a combo of locally hosted events, videos and live streamed content.
Facebook had earlier pulled out of the Game Developers Conference set to be held in San Francisco.
Earlier this month, The Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual telecoms industry gathering, was called off after a mass exodus by exhibitors due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and IBM had earlier withdrawn from the RSA cyber security conference, set for Feb. 24 to 28 in San Francisco, due to coronavirus-related concerns.
Google said its developer conference is still planned for May 12 to 14 as it monitors coronavirus developments.
Tracking political sponsored content
In other news, Facebook said it would provide a way for people to track political sponsored content on Facebook and Instagram ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
The move comes after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s campaign started paying popular meme accounts on Facebook-owned Instagram to post content as part of its social media offensive ahead of the 2020 election.
Facebook has added a new column here to its free social media tracking tool CrowdTangle to show sponsored content for the presidential candidates, as announced in tweets sent by Facebook director of product management Rob Leathern.
Action against platform abuse
Facebook also said it filed a federal lawsuit in California court against OneAudience, a New Jersey-based data analytics company that improperly accessed and collected user data from Facebook and other social media companies by paying app developers to install a malicious Software Development Kit (SDK) in their apps.
Security researchers first flagged OneAudience’s behavior to Facebook as part of the company's data abuse bounty program. Facebook, and other affected companies, then took enforcement measures against OneAudience. Facebook’s measures included disabling apps, sending the company a cease and desist letter, and requesting their participation in an audit, as required by our policies. Facebook says that OneAudience declined to cooperate.
"Through these lawsuits, we will continue sending a message to people trying to abuse our services that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation, and advance the state of the law when it comes to data misuse and privacy," said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, Facebook.
In an earlier statement on its website, OneAudience claims the data "was never intended to be collected, never added to our database and never used", adding that it updated the SDK and pushed it out to developers, requiring them to update immediately.