Facebook canceled its annual F8 developer conference, the largest annual event for the US technology giant, on Thursday due to concerns about the possible spread of the novel corona virus.
The meeting scheduled for early May in the city of San Jose in Silicon Valley typically draws thousands of software manufacturers from around the world to work with the technology giant on its platform.
"Given the growing concern for COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to remove the personal component of F8 this year to protect the health and safety of our developer partners, employees, and everyone who helps prioritize F8," said Facebook ,
Personal interaction at the conference center in San Jose is replaced by presentations streamed online. F8 sessions and demonstrations typically span the "family" of offerings, including the main social network, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and the virtual reality unit Oculus.
"This was a difficult call – F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and one of our most popular ways to celebrate all of you from around the world," said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of platform partnerships, in a message to the developers.
"We explored other ways to get the personal part of F8, but it is important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn't feel right to have F8 without our international developers."
The World Health Organization said Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a "crucial point" as countries around the world struggled to contain the fatal outbreak.
Concern is growing as China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19. Other countries, including South Korea and Italy, are becoming hotbeds for infections, raising fear of a pandemic.
The virus has already killed more than 2,700 people, mainly in China – where it first appeared in December – and infected more than 81,000 in over 45 countries.
US health officials confirmed a coronavirus case in Northern California, the first unknown origin of about 60 cases, and told Americans to be ready to cancel mass meetings and work from home.
The epidemic has triggered warnings of financial implications from technology giants like Apple and Microsoft.
Both Facebook and Microsoft announced on Thursday that they would withdraw from the game developer conference in San Francisco scheduled for March.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)