Using data from a voluntary survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University of over one million Facebook users, the social media platform just created and released an interactive map that highlights the number of people that have reported coronavirus-like symptoms in each county in the United States.
"Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an official blog post about the news, calling out the two billion people that belong to the platform globally. "We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses—and Facebook only sees aggregated data."
The map will be updated daily based on surveys continually carried out by Facebook and, although now solely focusing on areas across the U.S., Zuckerberg mentioned the planned advent of global surveys in the near future.
The goal of the effort is to help the government decide when, where and how to reopen the economy. It's important to note that the data used to populate the map is entirely reliant on self-reported cases of the virus. The number of real cases could, potentially, therefore be higher than what's highlighted.
Folks can interact with the map and compare COVID-19 numbers to gathered data focused on Facebook users who have reported general flu-like symptoms in the same county as well.
We've embedded the map right above. Play around with it, zoom into your areas of interest and remember: knowledge is power.