Facebook is trembling under the weight of traffic, as people around the world turn to the app to keep in touch with friends and family during the coronavirus pandemic.
So far the social network as managed to stay up and running, but has dialled back video quality for users in Europe to help mitigate the effect of the surge in demand, and has dropped many of the contract workers who moderate its content.
“”The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day,” Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of analytics, and vice president of infrastructure Jay Pareikh, wrote in a statement.
In company hit hardest by coronavirus, total messaging has increased up to 50%, and voice and video calling have more than doubled.
Alternatives to Facebook
If you’re looking for an alternative to Facebook for keeping in touch with loved ones, there are lots of options available. WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook) is a particularly good substitute for Facebook Messenger, as it allows you to make video calls for free if you’re using your home Wi-Fi, and easily keep in touch with large groups in shared text chats. Find out how to use WhatsApp.
Zoom video conferencing is another good option. It’s not designed for text chats, but it allows you to make video calls with up to 99 other people for free. Calls are limited to 40 minutes unless the person hosting the call upgrades to a paid account, but that’s a good chunk of time for catching up and making sure everyone is safe and well. How to use Zoom video conferencing.
Skype is a great choice for both text chats and video calls with multiple participants. It’s very easy to use, having undergone a total redesign last year that simplified its interface, and calls to other Skype users are completely free. You can even call mobile phones and landlines if you buy some Skype credit, which typically works out cheaper than using your actual phone. How to use Skype.
Where to buy a webcam in the US
Logitech StreamCam | $169 at Logitech
The Logitech StreamCam is Logitech’s latest webcam, but it really is one of the best. While this is marketed towards streamers, its excellent build quality and the ability to switch between phone-friendly 9:16 and computer-friendly 16:9 make it an excellent choice, even if it is a bit pricey. View Deal
Where to buy a webcam in the UK
HXSJ A860 USB2 webcam with mic | £16.79 at Newegg
If you’re in a fix and looking for something cheap that can handle both video and audio then this is currently your best bet. At under £20 it’s cheap and cheerful but will still get the job done if you want to video call your relatives or dial into those remote meetings at work.View Deal
Logitech C930c 1080P webcam | £88.90 at Newegg
If you’d prefer to go for a well-known brand then Newegg still has some stock on these Logitech C930c webcams. These are solid, business-focused webcams that will render video in 1080p – perfect for everything including Google Hangouts and Skype.