COVID-19: Yet another conference has been cancelled

Around 4,000 people were expected to attend Facebook’s upcoming global marketing conference in San Francisco next month, although Reuters now says that the conference has been cancelled over COVID-19 fears. The global marketing summit was scheduled for the 9th of March till the 12th, and Facebook’s u-turn comes after GSMA cancelled Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 over fears of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

That decision followed the withdrawals of multiple major companies over outbreak concerns, including Nvidia, Sony, Ericsson, and Facebook themselves. And with companies such as Nintendo and Apple also warning customers to expect delays in shipment for the Switch and the iPhone, the outbreak is clearly affecting the global technology industry.

As of 8am this morning, there have been a 75,144 confirmed cases over 26 countries, with a death toll of 2,000. While none of those deaths have been in the U.S., there have been 29 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections within the country—7 more than Malaysia.

Vox says that only 4 of those cases occurred in Silicon Valley, and all of those cases were of individuals who travelled to Hubei or had close contact with those who did travel to the region. Still, it appears the Silicon Valley’s close relationship with the manufacturing hub in China has worried certain parties.

While the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a global health emergency, there hasn’t been an official recommendation to cancel big, global events. But in a situation fast-approaching mass hysteria, logic is steadily taking a backseat in the decision-making process of many.

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This, of course, is a domino effect. The MWC, in itself, might not have been cancelled if so many big players had pulled out. One by one, companies started withdrawing over outbreak concerns, and I’d imagine that competitors started considering how public perception of an “appropriate” decision would be.

And now that the best mobile trade show of the year has been cancelled, it’s a decision that isn’t really unexpected, although it might be disappointing to certain parties.

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