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San Francisco: Facebook is asking users in the US to participate in a voluntary survey from Carnegie Mellon University to help health researchers generate new insights on how to respond to the crisis, including "heat maps" of self-reported symptoms.

Some people will see a link at the top of News Feed to an optional, off-Facebook survey to help health researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of COVID-19, the social networking platforms said in a statement late Monday.

"This information can help health systems plan where resources are needed and potentially when, where and how to reopen parts of society. If the results are helpful, we'll make similar surveys available in other parts of the world," said Facebook.

Facebook said the Carnegie Mellon researchers will not share individual survey responses with Facebook, and "Facebook won't share information about who you are with the researchers".

As part of 'Data for Good' programme, Facebook offers maps on population movement that researchers and nonprofits are already using to understand the coronavirus crisis, using aggregated data to protect people's privacy.

Google is also offering user location data to help public health officials spot increase or decrease of movement across high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential areas.

Health officials can go to the 'COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports' website, pick the country and download a PDF that charts the community movements.

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