Facebook launches COVID-19 survey to help researchers track how disease is spreading, abating

NEW YORK -- Facebook is inviting users to share their coronavirus symptoms and location to help researchers track how the disease is spreading or abating.

A survey will appear on Facebook starting this week for some U.S. users and is run by health researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. If it works, it could later expand worldwide.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Monday that “researchers and health officials think the data from these surveys can help determine where to allocate health resources like ventilators, where to tighten lockdown orders, and eventually which counties can safely start opening back up again.”

The company says it is also ramping up efforts to provide user location data to a network of epidemiology researchers who then share their analyses — but not individual data — with cities and states.

Those data-sharing agreements started in March and are supplying customized reports to states including California and Massachusetts, as well as parts of India, to show how social distancing practices are working in specific regions.