Facebook has launched a raft of measures to help tackle the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks — its latest is a new interactive map that displays reported county-by-county COVID-19 symptoms from users across the US. The data, obtained via Facebook surveys in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, will be updated throughout the outbreak. The company also says it plans to roll out symptom surveys globally in the coming days, in order to create similar symptom maps for other countries where Facebook operates.
In a post on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the platform is “uniquely suited” to run these surveys because it serves a community of billions of people and can therefore carry out statistically accurate sampling. It’s hoped that the maps will help local governments and public health officials better understand where to allocate resources and, eventually, when it’s safe to start reopening different places.
Facebook is not alone in wielding its massive influence in support of coronavirus-tackling efforts. Apple and Google have both started work on a smartphone-based contract tracing system, while Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger recently launched Rt.live, which uses metrics to track the spread of COVID-19 in real time. Facebook, meanwhile, is still working on three new tools — co-location maps, movement range trends and a social connectedness index — to help officials better understand the spread of the virus.