Keeping Our Services Stable and Reliable During the COVID-19 Outbreak: Facebook

Keeping Our Services Stable and Reliable During the COVID-19 Outbreak: Facebook
By Alex Schultz, VP of Analytics, and Jay Parikh, VP of Engineering
  • In many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month.
  • Similarly, in places hit hardest by the virus, voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.
  • In Italy, specifically:
    • We’ve seen up to 70% more time spent across our apps since the crisis arrived in the country.
    • Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week.
    • We have also seen messaging increase over 50% and time in group calling (calls with three or more participants) increase by over 1,000% during the last month.

Graph showing spike in group call time in Italy

We have received questions about revenue, so want to provide some context here too: Much of the increased traffic is happening on our messaging services, but we’ve also seen more people using our feed and stories products to get updates from their family and friends. At the same time, our business is being adversely affected like so many others around the world. We don’t monetize many of the services where we’re seeing increased engagement, and we’ve seen a weakening in our ads business in countries taking aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

During this emergency, we’re doing everything we can to keep our apps fast, stable, and reliable. Our services were built to withstand spikes during events such as the Olympics or on New Year’s Eve. However, those happen infrequently, and we have plenty of time to prepare for them. 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. We are working to keep our apps running smoothly while also prioritizing features such as our COVID-19 Information Center on Facebook as well as the World Health Organization’s Health Alert on WhatsApp. We’re monitoring usage patterns carefully, making our systems more efficient, and adding capacity as required. To help alleviate potential network congestion, we are temporarily reducing bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in certain regions. Lastly, we’re conducting testing and further preparing so we can quickly respond to any problems that might arise with our services.

As this global public health crisis advances and more people are physically separated from their communities, we expect that people will continue to rely on our services to stay connected during this time, and we hope these connections make it easier for people to stay home.