Facebook to collect user geolocation data to fight COVID-19

Facebook is launching tools to help scientists and healthcare professionals fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The company will collect location information from users.

A social media management team will provide scientists with information about user geolocation. This will help calculate the likelihood of people coming into contact in a particular location and find out what places they are likely to visit.

The data will help create a social connectedness index between regions. This will help predict the probability of the virus spreading.

US Social Connectedness Map. Source: about.fb.com

The company says it will not track the movement of specific people, and all the information given to researchers will be anonymous.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the information-gathering system will start working in the U.S. this week. If the project is successful, it will be extended to other countries.

“Researchers and health officials believe that the data can help determine how to allocate health care resources, such as ventilators, where quarantine should be tightened and which areas can go back to work,” Zuckerberg wrote.