Coronavirus forces IBM to suspend domestic travel for internal meetings

Big Blue to turn its Think event into a digital conference.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

IBM has said it is suspending all domestic travel for internal meetings and for any workers going to an event with more than 1,000 attendees.

The company said it would "sharply" curtail international travel to "business-critical situations when virtual methods are insufficient".

"If IBMers have personal travel to restricted locations, they must inform their manager and must self-quarantine for 14 days after their trip is completed, per recommendations by health organizations," Big Blue said.

"Domestic travel for work with clients is permitted, and IBMers are encouraged to hold meetings and events virtually."

The company also said its Think 2020 conference would move to a digital format.

Quite a few conferences this week have switched to online-only events, including Microsoft MVP Summit, Nvidia GTC, and Google Cloud Next and Adobe Summit conferences.

Coronavirus censorship in China

On Tuesday, Citizen Lab, a research group within the University of Toronto, released a report on the level of censorship occurring in China related to coronavirus.

Citizen Lab noted that WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese messaging platform, is censoring on the server-side, while YY, a live streaming platform, conducts its censoring on the client and has allowed the research group to track all updates to its word blacklist for over five years.

"Between January 1 and February 15, 2020, we found 516 keyword combinations directly related to COVID-19 that were censored in our scripted WeChat group chat," the report states.

"Censored COVID-19-related keyword combinations cover a wide range of topics, including discussions of central leaders' responses to the outbreak, critical and neutral references to government policies on handling the epidemic, responses to the outbreak in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau, speculative and factual information on the disease, references to Dr. Li Wenliang, and collective action."

Dr Wenliang was a Wuhan doctor who tried to warn the public about coronavirus via WeChat. He died due to the virus on February 7.

Citizen Lab said while some of the censorship could be due to Beijing trying to control the narrative, it also could be private companies over-censoring to avoid official reprimands.

At the time of writing, China has 80,422 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, with 2,984 deaths.

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