In many countries in the world the coronavirus is affecting normal daily life, and due to the issued advices on social distancing, the phone call volumes have spiked.
This news was confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg himself during a conference call on Wednesday when he discussed Facebook’s response to coronavirus and told the media that the volume of voice calls managed through WhatsApp and Messenger in Italy and other countries affected by COVID-19 is more than double the normal levels.
Being under quarantine and in isolation in their homes, people are relying more on virtual communication and socialisation. This has increased the volume of data going through Facebook’s servers.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook must plan for additional pressure on its infrastructure in case the number of coronavirus cases increases in those countries where the people predominantly use WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram as primary means of communication.
“This isn’t a massive outbreak in the majority of countries around the world yet,” Zuckerberg said. “But if it gets there, then we really need to make sure we’re on top of this from an infrastructure perspective to make sure that things don’t melt down.”
Zuckerberg paid particular attention to WhatsApp call volume in Italy, the country that remains under lock-down as an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. He said that a spike in call volumes is normal on New Year’s Eve.
“We are on a sustained basis well beyond what that spike is on New Year’s,” Zuckerberg said. “Just making sure that we can manage that is the challenge that we’re trying to make sure that we can stay in front of.”
This comes as an entirely new challenge for Facebook employees who are in charge of infrastructure maintenance. Facebook will start employing a work-from-home policy as of Thursday. However, a number of employees will remain in offices, especially those that play the most important roles in server and security management. These employees have been compared to first responders in a crisis by Zuckerberg.
This is definitely not far from actual truth given the value and importance of communication lines in these testing times.