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Facebook is offering an opt-in coronavirus symptom survey to U.S. users that will be shared with Carnegie Mellon University researchers to "provide an early indicator of where the outbreak is growing," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday.
"The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good," Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post. "If we use it responsibly, I’m optimistic that data can help the world respond to this health crisis and get us started on the road to recovery."
Zuckerberg said Facebook is "uniquely" positioned to help health officials get a closer look at the outbreak. Survey responses will go straight to researchers and Facebook won't be able to access them, he said.
"The survey asked people if they have symptoms such as fevers, coughing, shortness of breath or loss of smell that are associated with covid-19. Since experiencing symptoms is a precursor to becoming more seriously ill, this survey can help forecast how many cases hospitals will see in the days ahead," Zuckerberg wrote.
Facebook has taken a number of steps to respond to the impact of coronavirus, including notifying users who "like" posts containing coronavirus misinformation and rolling out a $100 million grant program to help small businesses.