Facebook creates coronavirus prevention maps with data from its users

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Facebook creates coronavirus prevention maps with data from its users

The network will offer users in the US to participate in a survey about their health and possible symptoms of the virus

The technology giant Facebook has said Monday that it is providing anonymous data on the movements and relationships of its users in the US in collaboration with a research project at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). The network will offer users to participate in a survey about their health and possible symptoms of COVID-19 so that they can better anticipate where the pathogen could spread.

The social network will create ‘population movement’ maps with tools to obtain information, but protecting people’s privacy, according to a publication by Facebook’s chief health officer, KX Jin and Laura McGorman of the Data for Good program. “Hospitals are working on getting the right resources, and public health systems are looking to set the right guidelines,” said Jin and McGorman. “To do that, they need better information on whether preventive measures are working and how the virus can spread.”

Google announced a similar move last week, saying it would provide a glimpse of the location of users worldwide to help governments assess the effectiveness of the social distancing measures put in place to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tools Facebook is providing researchers with include “joint location maps to show the odds of people in one specific place coming into contact with those in another, perhaps pointing to where new cases of COVID-19 might appear.

Data on “range of motion trends will show whether people stay close to home as advised or venture to other parts of the city, which may exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.

As in the case of Google, Facebook assured that the data it publishes is generic (in no case refers to a single individual) and anonymised, that is, that there is no possibility of recovering the original identities of the subjects.

Also, also as in the case of Google, since the signing of Menlo Park (California, USA) indicated that only data regarding the location of those who have given their express consent is collected and, therefore, if a user wishes, they can refuse to have their information used for this purpose.

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