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Facebook cancels its biggest conference amid coronavirus concerns

Facebook announced on Thursday that it is canceling F8, its biggest annual event, due to concerns over the coronavirus.

“We’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 this year, in order to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” the company wrote on the F8 website.

In a blog post, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who heads Facebook’s platform partnerships, said it was a “tough call to make.” Instead of holding one large event for developers, the company said it plans to hold “locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content.”

At F8, Facebook typically shares its future vision for the company and teases new features and products. Past announcements have included Facebook Datingtesting hiding likes on Instagram and a redesign of Facebook’s logo, mobile app and website.

This year’s event was originally scheduled to take place in early May.

Earlier this month, Facebook canceled a large advertising conference in San Francisco, also due to concerns over the virus.

Fears over the coronavirus outbreak ballooned this week after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects cases in the US to increase. The virus has now infected over 82,000 people around the world, with the most cases in China.

The ongoing spread of the coronavirus has caused other companies to close offices and stores in China. Mobile World Congress, one of the tech industry’s biggest annual events, was called off earlier this month because of the outbreak.

Multiple tech companies, including Apple and Microsoft, have also warned that their sales could take a hit as coronavirus impacts their manufacturing operations in China.

Not all tech events are getting canceled, however. South by Southwest, an annual tech, media and music festival in Austin, is still set to take place next month.

“The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned,” a spokesperson for the event told CNN Business. “Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event.”

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