Facebook relies on user data to fight coronaviruses – Science & Tech


Facebook said on Monday that it was providing anonymous data on user movements and relationships to help researchers better anticipate where the coronavirus might spread.

Leading online social network expands ‘population movement’ cards with tools to glean information to protect people’s privacy, article from Facebook health official KX Jin and Laura McGorman his Data for Good arm.

“Hospitals are trying to get the right resources, and public health systems are looking to put the right guidelines in place,” said Jin and McGorman.

“To do this, they need better information to know if the preventive measures are working and how the virus can spread. “

Last week, Google announced a similar decision, saying it would provide a snapshot of location data for users around the world to help governments assess the effectiveness of social distancing measures implemented to stem the pandemic. of COVID-19.

The tools Facebook provides to researchers include “co-location maps” to show the probabilities that people in one specific location will come into contact with those of another, possibly indicating where new COVID-19 cases may appear. .

Data on “range of motion” trends will show whether people stay close to home as counselor or venture into other parts of the city, which could worsen the spread of coronaviruses.

Facebook also provides an index of friendships crossing national or national borders to allow epidemiologists to predict how the virus might spread given where people might seek support or sanctuary.

“The mobility data from Facebook’s Data for Good program provides an almost real-time view of the important correlates of disease transmission,” said Daniel Klein, director of research at Institute for Disease Modeling.

“These data, in combination with other sources, allow us to make better models for informing public health decisions. “

Facebook will also post links to the platform’s news feeds inviting people to participate in a Carnegie Mellon University survey to help researchers monitor and predict the spread of the virus.

Information about the identity of the people would not be released to researchers, the social network promised.

Facebook has struggled in the past to dispel concerns about how the Internet titan handles private user data, especially after a huge data breach in 2018 that exposed millions of users around the world.

If the investigation turns out to be helpful, Facebook will make similar efforts outside the United States, according to Jin and McGorman.

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