Facebook’s F8 event will return, but online-only and without Zuckerberg

Facebook cancelled F8 2020 outright in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s bringing the developer conference back for 2021 — if not quite the way you remember it. TechCrunch reports that Facebook is holding F8 Refresh on June 2nd as a virtual-only event. As you might guess by the one-day timeframe, the social network is narrowing the focus, going “back to [F8’s] roots” as a conference to help developers thrive.

The company hasn’t yet outlined its schedule, but it’s promising to showcase the latest development tools and offer a mix of deep dives, demos and panels. You can sign up for an alert when registrations are open. Notably, though, Mark Zuckerberg won’t have an opening keynote. Instead, platform partnership VP Konstantinos Papamiltiadis will get things started.

It’s not surprising that F8 Refresh exists. While Facebook certainly supported developers in 2020, it hasn’t had a large gathering since 2019 — it’s hard to imagine the company going another year without an event to rally the developer community, even if an in-person gathering wasn’t realistic. Refresh might not offer the face-to-face networking that’s often so important at these conferences, but it tells creators that Facebook is committed and offers the hope of a real-world event in 2022.