Another major tech conference is skipping this year amid growing concerns about the novel coronavirus.
On Thursday, Facebook announced that “the in-person component” of F8 2020, its annual developer conference, has been canceled. In recent years, F8 has served as both a gathering place for developers who make use of Facebook’s various platforms as well as a press conference to announce new products and services. For example, preorders for the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S opened at last year’s F8 event.
“Every year, we look forward to connecting with our global developer community at F8 and sharing our vision for the future that we’re building together,” said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Director of Platform Partnerships, in a news post on the Facebook Developers site on Thursday. “But given the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 2020.”
“This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world — but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Papamiltiadis added. “We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”
Facebook donates a portion of ticket sales to “an organization working to diversify the tech industry” in San Jose — the F8 host city — every year, but since no tickets will be sold in 2020, Facebook will instead donate $500,000 directly to organizations that serve San Jose. Facebook is also going to “provide an F8-inspired experience” for local students who would have attended the conference, though no details were provided.
Finally, Papamiltiadis explains that while the main event has been canceled, Facebook still plans to give its community a chance to convene through “a combo of locally hosted events, videos and live streamed content.” More plans regarding these live and live streamed event will be shared in the weeks to come.