Facebook’s Apps Helped People Celebrate the New Year Together, Even When Apart

Like all of 2020, last night’s New Year’s Eve was different. There were fewer crowds celebrating in the streets around the world. Instead, more people spent a cozy night at home looking back on a difficult year and hoping for brighter days ahead. Despite so many being apart from friends and family due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people were still able to connect with each other the same way they’ve been connecting all year: through online video and audio calling, and in record numbers.

In 2020, people turned to technology to stay in touch and get things done in the face of social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, and video calling became arguably the most in-demand feature. At Facebook, we saw surges in video chatting all year across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, and last night was no exception. New Year’s Eve is a historically busy night for our services, but this year set new records.  

“Before COVID-19, New Year’s Eve generated Facebook’s biggest spikes in messaging, photo uploads and social sharing at midnight across the world. However, in March 2020, the early days of the pandemic produced traffic spikes that would dwarf New Year’s Eve several times over — and it lasted for months. Behind the scenes, Facebook Engineering came together to drive unprecedented efficiency improvements and make our infrastructure more resilient. This work includes load testing, disaster recovery testing and shuffling capacity. This year, New Year’s Eve looked a lot different, and we had engineering teams across Facebook’s apps, ready to support any issue, so the world could ring in 2021.”

Caitlin Banford, technical program manager at Facebook

Here’s a breakdown on how people celebrated using our apps:

WhatsApp

  • More than 1.4 billion voice and video calls were made on New Year’s Eve 2020 globally, the most ever calls in a single day on WhatsApp.
  • WhatsApp calling increased over 50% compared to the same day last year.

Messenger 

  • People celebrated with effects in Messenger, and the top AR effect in the US was “2020 Fireworks.”
  • New Year’s Eve 2020 was the biggest day ever for Messenger group video calls (3+ people) in the US, with nearly 2X more group video calls on NYE compared to the average day.

Instagram Live and Facebook Live

  • There were more than 55 million live broadcasts across Facebook and Instagram globally on New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year from all of us at Facebook. We’re looking forward to helping everyone stay connected in 2021!

infographic with stats about usage of Facebook's apps on New Year's Eve



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