COVID-19 causes surge in usage of Facebook platforms

In countries hit hard by the pandemic, voice and video calling have more than doubled on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
By: | March 26, 2020
Topics: News

An increasingly number of border lockdowns and stringent physical distancing measures are continuing to keep millions around the world in the confines of their homes. With the need to not only maintain contact with loved ones, but also to carry remote work duties, the demand for communication and collaboration platforms continues to soar.

Facebook is the latest technology company to announce an escalating surge in usage of their platforms, which includes Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. The social media giant said total messaging traffic increased 50% on average across the “hardest hit countries”, while voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.

In Italy, where the number of COVID-19 fatalities rank highest in the world, group video calls (calls with three or more participants) rocketed by more than 1000% in the last month, alongside the rise in messaging traffic. Instagram and Facebook Live views also doubled in a week.

Facebook says it is closely monitoring usage patterns and will take necessary steps to increase capacity as more people remain indoors and work from home. The company has already lowered video quality in Europe to help reduce demand on Internet service providers, a move mirrored by Amazon, Apple TV+ and Netflix.

Anticipating usage of its platforms to grow exponentially as more people are physically separated from their communities and have to stay connected, Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice-president of analytics, and Jay Parikh, vice-president of engineering, wrote in an online post, “The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day. Maintaining stability throughout these spikes in usage is more challenging than usual now that most of our employees are working from home.”