Facebook, Twitter Pull Out of SXSW 2020 Due to Coronavirus Concern

The annual South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas is moving ahead as planned — with or without some big-name guests.

In a statement given to Business Insider, Facebook announced that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the company and its employees will not take part in SXSW 2020.

Meanwhile, Siobhan Murphy, Twitter spokesperson, told The Verge that the employee travel restriction includes this year’s SXSW event.

In Twitter’s latest coronavirus-related update, the company has advised all employees to work remotely if they can. “Beginning today, we are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us,” Jennifer, Lead People Team at Twitter wrote in the official blog post.

She added that they are ensuring that internal meetings and other crucial tasks “are optimized for remote participation.” The post mentioned that working from home is compulsory for employees based in its Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea offices.

SXSW has released a statement regarding the coronavirus outbreak. “SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority,” it read.

Facebook’s decision wasn’t a big surprise. The company cancelled F8, its developer conference in San Jose, California, because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, the company plans to host local events and stream videos.

The move also follows the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, the giant mobile phone conference held in Barcelona and the postponement of Game Developers Conference. On Monday, Google also said that its Cloud Next event in April will be held virtually this year with live streamed keynotes and sessions.

The coronavirus, which was found in China in December, has infected more than 90,000 people and killed at least 3,081 people. The virus causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19.