Coronavirus Facebook will share ‘anonymous’ data from its users in order to better understand how the coronavirus spreads
Facebook will provide new types of anonymous user data, including potential contacts with people close to your location and friends, to help experts and institutions investigating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the company has announced in a statement, Facebook has expanded its Data for Good program, which pursues social uses with its data, and which already provides information on user movements to researchers and organizations that fight COVID-19.
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It is not the first measure that Facebook, as a company, takes in relation to the coronavirus. This morning they announced that WhatsApp, the popular mobile messaging app, will limit the forwarding of messages to prevent the spread of false news and hoaxes about the disease.
Given the huge amount of data that Facebook collects from its users, they have many tools to know what they do at all times, to the point of knowing what friends they have in the real world but not on the social network, what on paper, It could help make study models of the spread of the coronavirus or other highly contagious diseases.
With regard to anonymous data, the company has not detailed exactly how it makes the data anonymous so that it is impossible to identify a person who may have suffered from the coronavirus or been in contact with another who has suffered from it.
Now, the company has added three new types of data to its health expert data program, with the goal of “helping to inform efforts to predict the disease and take preventive measures.” This is anonymised aggregated data to protect the privacy of users. The first of the tools shows researchers the probability that people in a given area have been in contact with others, through patterns that are used to predict possible local infections.
Another function measures mobility trends in a region, showing by a curve whether its inhabitants stay at home during quarantine or visit other places, which can guide preventive measures. Finally, Facebook has compiled a social connection index that shows the degree of friendships of users in a region who come from other areas or other countries, which can help epidemiologists to discern where the virus is more likely to spread .
In addition, the company has collaborated with a study prepared by Carnegie Mellon University (United States) and will begin to disseminate a survey among its US users, with questions such as a self-diagnosis of COVID-19, to help monitor and predict the spread of the illness