According to Facebook’s health directors KX Jin and Laura McGorman in their “Data Good” post, leading online social networks are using tools to collect “population movement” maps to still protect people’s privacy Way to gather insights.
Jin and McGorman said: “Hospitals are trying to obtain the right resources, and the public health system is seeking to develop the right guidelines.”
“For this, they need better information about whether preventive measures are effective and how the virus is spreading.”
Google announced a similar move last week, saying it will provide a snapshot of global user location data to help the government evaluate the effectiveness of social distancing measures implemented to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facebook’s tools for researchers include a “colocation map” that shows the probability that a person in a specific location will be in contact with a person in another specific location, which may indicate the possibility of a new COVID-19 case.
Data on the “range of motion” trend will show whether people stay at home as recommended or take risks in other parts of the town, which may exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.
Facebook also provides a cross-state or cross-border friendship index to enable epidemiologists to predict how the virus might spread in places where people seek support or shelter.
Daniel Klein, senior research manager at the Institute of Disease Modeling, said: “The mobility data from Facebook’s Data for Good program provides a near real-time view of important links to disease transmission.”
“The combination of these data with other sources allows us to develop better models to provide a basis for public health decision-making.”
Facebook will also display a link in the news feed of the platform, inviting people to participate in a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, which aims to help researchers monitor and predict the spread of the virus.
The social network promises that information about people’s identities will not be disclosed to researchers.
In the past, Facebook has been trying to address concerns about how Internet giants handle private user data, especially after a large-scale data breach in 2018 exposed millions of users worldwide.
According to Jin and McGorman, if this investigation proves to be helpful, then Facebook will undertake similar efforts outside the United States.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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