The COVID-19 pandemic forced many to have virtual New Year’s Eve get-togethers, and that’s very clearly reflected in WhatsApp’s numbers. Facebook’s chat app set a record as 2020 came to a close, with 1.4 billion video and voice calls placed on New Year’s Eve 2020 — the most ever in a single day on WhatsApp. It was a 50 percent spike over the event from a year earlier, and surpassed even the early days of the pandemic in March.
Other apps pushed boundaries as well. Facebook Messenger had its largest-ever volume of group video calls in the US, with almost twice as many calls as on the average day. Facebook Live and Instagram Live also had 55 million broadcasts worldwide.
Facebook said it had to make “unprecedented efficiency improvements” and otherwise bolster its infrastructure to handle the load from its various apps during the pandemic. Teams were at the ready during New Year’s Eve, too. If your WhatsApp call went smoothly, you now know why.
The WhatsApp record is one Facebook likely won’t mind keeping for a long time to come — ideally, mass vaccinations make in-person New Year’s Eve celebrations a reality again. Still, this shows how internet calling has been critical to preserving traditions at a particularly difficult moment.