WhatsApp hits major record on New Year’s Eve

WhatsApp hit a major record on New Year’s Eve as people looked to keep in touch despite social distancing.

Users made more than 1.4 billion voice and video calls on the last day of 2020, the company said, more than any other day in history.

WhatsApp calling was up 50 per cent compared with New Year’s Eve the year before, Facebook said.

Messenger also set its own records on the same evening. New Year’s Eve was the biggest ever day for group video calls on that platform, with more than double the usual.

Facebook also said that the most popular AR effect in the US on the big night was “2020 Fireworks”, and that people had celebrated using the app’s effects.

It also announced that there were 55 million live broadcasts on Facebook and Instagram over New Year’s Eve.

Developers including Facebook have rushed to respond to social distancing, as online chat and call apps have become the primary way of both working and celebrating.

Facebook noted that all of its apps – Facebook itself, as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – had seen surges in video chat throughout the year, as well as New Year’s Eve.

While the end of the year was the busiest day, the spikes still did not rival those first days of global lockdowns, the company said.

“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, in a statement.

“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.”

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