A record 1.4 billion voice and video calls were made using WhatsApp on New Year’s Eve 2020, Facebook reveals in a new blog post.
Facebook says that is an increase of more than 50% compared to the same day last year.
According to the most recently available figures, WhatsApp has a mind-boggling 2 billion users in 180 countries. That’s more users than the entire populations of either China or India, the world’s two most populous nations.
It seems that a good percentage of them used the app to speak with friends or family heading into 2021.
Facebook also says that its Messenger and Instagram apps received huge amounts of usage on New Year’s Eve,
“Before COVID-19, New Year’s Eve generated Facebook’s biggest spikes in messaging, photo uploads and social sharing at midnight across the world,” said Caitlin Banford, technical program manager at Facebook. “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.”
Record WhatsApp calls
Facebook’s record is pretty darn impressive. But its announcement about the WhatsApp calling also comes at a time when the social media giant is being scrutinized for the amount of power that it has.
In December, federal regulators and upward of 45 state prosecutors sued Facebook. Their accusation is that Facebook has stifled competition by acquiring rivals. In particular, they want to look into how Facebook was allowed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp. Both of these deals concluded years ago.
During the congressional antitrust hearing last summer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that:
“In many areas, we are behind our competitors. The most popular messaging service in the U.S. is iMessage. The fastest growing app is TikTok. The most popular app for video is YouTube. The fatest growing ads platform is Amazon. The largest ads platform is Google.”
It will be interesting to see if any of the other top messaging apps reveal details on usage over the holidays.