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New Year’s Eve is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for Facebook’s family of applications, and with social gatherings severely limited or eliminated altogether by the pandemic, technology played an even larger role than usual in connecting family and friends bidding farewell to 2020 and welcoming 2021.
Over 1.4 billion voice and video calls were made globally via WhatsApp on New Year’s Eve, marking a single-day record for the messaging app and a jump of more than 50% from New Year’s Eve 2019.
Dec. 31 was also the largest day ever for group video calls (three or more people) on Messenger From Facebook in the U.S., with the tally nearly doubling an average day on the app. The top augmented reality effect on Messenger in the U.S. was 2020 Fireworks.
Finally, there were more than 55 million live broadcasts on Facebook Live and Instagram Live worldwide on New Year’s Eve.
Facebook technical program manager Caitlin Banford wrote in a Newsroom post, “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.”