Facebook is social distancing from you

Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant's CEO, announced Thursday that the company is preemptively canceling most in-person events through the summer of 2021. And yes, the coronavirus is to blame. 

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg explained that any and all Facebook events with over 50 people in attendance would be nixed until June of next year. That, of course, includes the company's annual F8 developer conference typically held in the spring. Facebook canceled the 2020 F8 back in February, but today's announcement shows that the company doesn't think it will be safe to gather in large groups for at least another 14 or so months. 

"Even beyond this next period, guidance from health experts is that it won't be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while," wrote Zuckerberg. "Given this, we're canceling any large physical events we had planned with 50 or more people through June 2021."

Notably, Zuckerberg also said that the "vast majority" of Facebook's workforce will remain working remotely "at least" through May.  

"A small percent of our critical employees who can't work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don't expect to have everyone back in our  offices for some time," added the CEO.

Facebook had been criticized for requiring some of its contract content reviewers to still physically come into an office. 

That some form of a return to normalcy is a year off for Facebook fits neatly with the timeline for the estimated development of a vaccine. That is, experts think a vaccine is 12 to 18 months out, and, until then, some form of social distancing or scaled-down events may be required. At this early stage, canceling events of over 50 people seems like a cautious but responsible move. 

For all the coronavirus misinformation on its various platforms, the executive team at Facebook seems to have absorbed this new reality. Hopefully, its users will follow suit.