As can be expected, with the number of people stuck at home due to the COVID-19 virus Facebook has seen a monumental increase in usage over the course of just a few weeks. Yet while you might be fooled into thinking that’s cause for celebration for the social media platform, apparently the excessive use is placing severe strain on the company’s infrastructure.
This whole coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be a real Catch 22 for Facebook as the company has announced that the sheer volume of people using the site has caused it a great deal of strain. Now, you probably already know how huge Facebook is and the fact that it has millions of active users posting and sharing videos, status updates and memes every second of every day tells you all you need to know about the kind of infrastructure that’s required by Facebook to support it all.
Yet even the most advanced infrastructure in the world isn’t enough to stand up against the flood of traffic caused by self-isolation and quarantine. As more people are stuck inside, bored out of their mind, the use of Facebook has seen a dramatic increase. The company has reported that in Italy alone Facebook has received a 70% increase in consistent time spent on the site and a 50% increase in the number of people using its Messenger app.
In a post on Facebook’s company site, Alex Schultz, VP of Analytics and Jay Pareikh, VP of Infrastructure write, “During this emergency, we’re doing everything we can to keep our apps fast, stable, and reliable. Our services were built to withstand spikes during events such as the Olympics or on New Year’s Eve. However, those happen infrequently, and we have plenty of time to prepare for them. The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day.”
The update also states that Facebook is struggling to maintain moderation standards due to the number of contract workers that have been assigned to work from home or told to just not work at all. It’s even gone so far as to lower the quality of videos on the platform. “We’re monitoring usage patterns carefully, making our systems more efficient, and adding capacity as required. To help alleviate potential network congestion, we are temporarily reducing bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in certain regions,” reads the post.
While Facebook is certainly not as popular as it once was, the simplicity and ease it provides isolated people to connect with friends and loved ones is proving invaluable. Let’s just hope it’s able to keep it up rather than buckling under the strain.