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How The Coronavirus Is Disrupting Facebook’s Global Business

Misinformation and fake news about the novel coronavirus outbreak are proliferating on Facebook, prompting the global digital giant to talk to the World Health Organisation (WHO) about how to tackle the fake news – but that’s just the beginning of the virus’ impact on Facebook.

Like many other companies, Facebook’s core business has been impacted by the breakout, which has been titled a pandemic by WHO, has infected over 64,000 people and killed nearly 1,500 across the world in recent months. From upsetting hardware supply chains to forcing it to cancel planned industry conference appearances – the virus has struck havoc on Facebook’s business.

The effects on Facebook illustrates how the outbreak is disrupting global businesses and highlights how the virus may continue to have negative impacts if the virus is not contained in the following months.

(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo)

Facebook’s supply chain for its core virtual reality hardware is heavily reliant on suppliers located in China, which has been disrupted by the virus and seen many major factories, including Foxconn, shut down. Oculus Quest, its latest VR headset, is facing shortages because of these closures.

‘Oculus Quest has been selling out in some regions due to high demand. That said, like other companies we’re expecting some additional impact to our hardware production due to the Coronavirus,’ a spokesperson told Business Insider.

‘We’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, manufacturing partners and customers, and are monitoring the situation closely. We are working to restore availability as soon as possible.’

But Facebook’s Portal, a smart speaker and video-chat device, isn’t currently impacted by the outbreak.

Alongside many other major tech companies, including Apple, Facebook is advising employees against travelling to China and requiring those who do to seek approval from the company in advance.

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Employees who have visited the country are being told to work from home.

Facebook was also one of the many big, global brands to exit from the Mobile World Congress, a major mobile industry event that was due to take place in Barcelona in late-February.

After many high profile drop outs, including Samsung and LG, conference organisers GSMA made the unprecedented decision last week to cancel this year’s event altogether.

But it also cancelled its own conference it had scheduled for mid-March. The Global Marketing Summit, a 5,000-person event hosted in San Francisco was planned for 9 till 12 March but will no longer go forward, Facebook announced on Friday.

In a statement, spokesperson Anthony Harrison said: ‘Our priority is the health and safety of our teams, so out of an abundance of caution, we cancelled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus.’

But another, more significant event has its future clouded by the virus also – F8. If the outbreak continues to spread over the upcoming months, it raises questions if the developer conference that acts as Facebook’s largest event of the year will go forward.

It is currently expected to go ahead sometime in May this year.

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