Pinterest CEO and US scientists launch Covid-19 self-reporting app

3 Apr 2020

Image: © Prostock-studio/

Technologists and scientists in the US have collaborated on the How We Feel app, which aims to gather data about the spread of Covid-19.

Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann has partnered with computer science, therapeutics, social science and medical researchers from Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other institutions to create a new self-reporting Covid-19 tracking app.

The app, entitled How We Feel, was set up by a group that includes Silbermann and Dr Feng Zhang, biochemist and inventor of CRISPR. A full list of the scientific collaborators involved with the project can be seen here.

How it works

Aimed at users in the US, How We Feel aims to let individuals quickly self-report their age, gender, zip code and any health symptoms they are experiencing. The aggregate data is then shared with select scientists, doctors and public health professionals who are working to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the US.

The group hopes to use this data to identify potential sites of new outbreaks, and to help gain an understanding of how the virus is spreading, which populations may be at risk and what kind of interventions may be working to slow the spread of the disease.

The team behind How We Feel said: “This data is crucial right now because there’s a widespread shortage of Covid-19 testing. Self-reported data can be a powerful new tool in our fight against the pandemic.”

The group also said it is handling the data securely and is asking for few personal details – the app does not want a name, phone number or email address and users will not be asked to make an account.

The app is also partnering with the charities Feeding America and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. On the app’s website, it says: “The first time you download the app and donate your data, we will donate a meal to people in need through Feeding America – up to 10m meals.”

Why was this set up?

The group behind How We Feel added: “We’re all looking for something we can do to stop the spread of the virus. Health professionals need insight into areas that aren’t yet showing significant spikes in positive Covid-19 tests, but could be on the edge of an outbreak.

“This data is especially important because there is a worldwide shortage of testing. “

The app also wants to collect the data of healthy people too, and is encouraging people across the US who are over the age of 18 to download the app and keep track of how they feel each day, monitoring any small changes to their health.

“Remember, the goal of this app is to get an aggregate sense of how people are feeling across America,” the team added.

“Get into the habit of reporting your symptoms. Take 30 seconds to donate your data while you brush your teeth in the morning or before you go to bed at night. Reporting your health data now has the potential to save lives later.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic