Facebook suspends expansion of Clonee data centre

24 Mar 2020

Image: © MoiraM/Stock.adobe.com

Facebook has paused construction work at its data centre in Clonee in an effort to protect workers during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Today (24 March), Facebook said that work on the expansion of its data centre in Clonee, Co Meath, will be temporarily suspended after discussions with building contractor Mace.

The social media giant said that it made the decision in an effort to “protect the health and safety of people who work on our construction sites and the wider community during the Covid-19 outbreak”, according to RTÉ.

A spokesperson for the company said Facebook looks forward to welcoming workers back onto the site as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Clonee data centre

The Clonee data centre was Facebook’s first in Ireland, and its second in Europe following the Luleå data centre in Sweden. The facility is part of the infrastructure that supports Facebook’s 1.6bn users, as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

The €300m data centre was first opened in September 2018, hosting around 300 Facebook staff on-site. Last year, Facebook confirmed plans to almost double the size of the Clonee site with the construction of two new buildings.

Earlier this month, The Irish Times reported that three contractors working on the construction of these new building in Clonee had been sent to receive medical tests after displaying flu-like symptoms. The site’s canteen was closed for deep cleaning.

With expansion works now suspended, RTÉ reported that Facebook will pay an “appreciation bonus” to workers who are temporarily removed from the Clonee site. The company is also “working closely with Mace” to ensure that the local labour force is supported until work business resumes as usual.

From early March, Facebook had advised employees and contractors in Ireland to work from home where possible, however, there were concerns that may not include all content moderators in Dublin due to the sensitive nature of their work.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic