Instagram’s founders launch website to live track spread of coronavirus
Instagram’s founders, who have been mostly out of the public eye since leaving Facebook Inc. in 2018, have launched a website that gives live state-by-state updates on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.
Named RT.live, the website uses a statistic called an effective reproduction number, which tracks the average number of people who contracted with the virus from a single infected person.
“If it’s above one, that means it’s growing very quickly, and if it’s below one, that means things are under control,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and former chief executive officer of Instagram, told in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
“We’re trying to take what is a complex topic and boil it down to a simple number that anyone can view from their home.” Systrom said.
While the pandemic is worldwide, Systrom said it would be more useful to look at the infection rate from a local angle, explaining that according to the ranking, Vermont is much safer than Georgia, for instance.
He hoped RT.live would help citizens understand whether they are in danger as parts of the economy reopen.
“That’s why this dashboard is so important — because it gives you live insight into the effects of the choices we all make,” he noted.
Systrom and Mike Krieger, the Instagram founders, left Facebook in late 2018 after disagreements with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.
While neither man has a background in health or epidemiology, the same statistical modeling that applies to fast company growth might also be useful for tracking the growth of the coronavirus, he added.
Systrom noted that he doesn’t expect to turn the new site into a company, though, he said: “We’ll see where it goes,”