Facebook shares users’ location with researchers

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Facebook is expanding its location report to get more details about the movement of US residents in the midst of the new Coronavirus pandemic. Named “Data for Good” (“Data for Good”, in free translation), the campaign presents locomotion graphics from several North American states and now asks for the description of symptoms of voluntary users.

Related to Carnegie Mellon University, the research seeks to collect data from volunteer users to fuel the pandemic study. The company is inviting some users to report symptoms they are experiencing during isolation. The responses are anonymous and serve to identify new covid-19 centers.

“We believe that Facebook and others in the technology industry can and should continue to look for innovative ways to help health officials and scientists respond to the crisis,” said Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy. “But we believe that these efforts should not compromise the public’s privacy.”

The director believes that sharing data with authorities does not require the identification of participating users. “We believe that we can help without giving up data protection.”

The tools released this Monday (6th) include more location data, which now illustrate locomotion between municipalities, mobility trends and behavior in the face of recommendations for physical isolation.

The creation of models for forecasting events is also something targeted by US health officials and Facebook data can help with development.

“Measuring the impact of social isolation policies is fundamental at this point. More data related to this provides more insights that protect individual privacy and are useful for politicians and researchers in building prediction models, ”said Caroline Buckee, associate director of Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, in a statement.

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Google recently made location and mobility data from 131 countries public, targeting it especially at researchers and health officials. Likewise, the research giant seeks to collaborate with government decision making and show how quarantine policies have affected people’s habits.


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