Coronavirus fears push Facebook, Microsoft to cancel conferences

Last year's Facebook conference attracted 5,000 people from around the world

Facebook said on Thursday it would cancel its annual developer conference due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak and Microsoft followed suit by withdrawing from a gaming conference scheduled for next month.

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“In place of the in-person F8 event, we’re planning other ways for our community to get together through a combo of locally hosted events, videos and live streamed content,” said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of platform partnership.

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The conference, which attracted 5,000 people from around the world last year, was scheduled to be held on May 5 and 6 in San Jose, California.

Microsoft now has plans to hold a digital-only event from March 16-18. Facebook has earlier pulled out of the Game Developers Conference set to be held in San Francisco.

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In California, a person was detected with coronavirus infection on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the United States to 15, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency has warned of the possibility of a community spread of the coronavirus in the country.

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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.

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AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and International Business Machines Corp had earlier withdrawn from the RSA cyber security conference, set for Feb. 24 to 28 in San Francisco, due to coronavirus-related concerns.

Alphabet Inc’s Google said its developer conference is still planned for May 12 to 14 as it monitors coronavirus developments.