As the coronavirus spread around the globe and people everywhere were ordered to stay home, phone calls over Facebook’s apps doubled. In many countries, messaging on Instagram and also Facebook soared by over 50%, while group calls in Italy increased by more than 1,000%. And hungry for information, people repeatedly click on virus news stories shown on social network sites.
Inside Facebook, this meant the pressure was on.
“We are just trying to keep the lights on over here,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, revealed in an interview last weekend.
As airlines, hotels, restaurants and other companies struggle to stay afloat during the pandemic, Facebook is also labouring to cope with the fallout. But unlike those other businesses, the Silicon Valley giant is being strained by the coronavirus differently: Its usage is going through the roof.
Skyrocketing traffic and a crush of new users are now stressing Facebook’s systems just as its 45,000 employees are dealing with working remotely for the first time. The company is also trying to keep its users’ data secure while employees who sift through posts to moderate content do so from home. At the same time, Facebook has added to its workload by promising to do more to limit virus misinformation.
Alternatives to Facebook
If you’re looking for an alternative to Facebook for keeping in touch with loved ones, there are lots of options available. WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook) is a particularly good substitute for Facebook Messenger, as it allows you to make video calls for free if you’re using your home Wi-Fi, and easily keep in touch with large groups in shared text chats. Find out how to use WhatsApp.
Zoom video conferencing is another good option. It’s not designed for text chats, but it allows you to make video calls with up to 99 other people for free. Requests are limited to 40 minutes unless the person is hosting the call upgrades to a paid account, but that’s a good chunk of time for catching up and making sure everyone is safe and well. How to use Zoom video conferencing.
Skype is an excellent choice for both text chats and video calls with multiple participants. It’s effortless to use, having undergone a total redesign last year that simplified its interface, and invitations to other Skype users are entirely free. You can even call mobile phones and landlines if you buy some Skype credit, which typically works out cheaper than using your actual phone. How to use Skype.