Facebook rolls out new livestreaming features to address quarantine surge

Facebook is adding new live stream features to conserve data during the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Facebook

The Internet is starting to feel the burden of people staying home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. With nothing to do, everyone is streaming, video chatting, and downloading. All of that puts a strain on the global Internet infrastructure.

Now, Facebook is taking its own measures to try and balance live streaming with bandwidth conservation. The Big Tech giant is rolling out several new features that should help address these issues in the coming days.

Go Live

Over the past few weeks, Facebook claims that its platform has seen an “unprecedented” surge in usage. Of course, there are a lot of unprecedented events going on at the moment. Since people are staying home with nothing to do, it isn’t surprising that social media sites like Facebook are seeing a surge in users.

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As people around the world search for ways to stay connected while practicing social distancing, live video has become a powerful tool. Thanks to its free and simple nature, Facebook’s live streams are one of the most popular options.

To help meet the rising demand for its services, Facebook is implementing some new features. For one, it will give people without a smartphone or reliable Internet connection a way to join in. Users will soon be able to dial in to a toll-free number with their phone and then listen to the live stream. This will work similarly to conference calling platforms like Zoom.

Likewise, Facebook Live will get a new audio-only mode. This is great news for users that want to listen to a live stream of, say, a state press conference but don’t need to watch what’s happening. That will decrease bandwidth usage for both users and the Internet.

Finally, Facebook live streams will be available to mobile users who don’t have a Facebook account or aren’t signed in. Previously, this was only available to desktop users. The new feature is already live on Android and will roll out to iOS in the coming weeks.

Adjusting to the Times

Figuring out ways to keep things up and running in the middle of this pandemic hasn’t been easy. However, thanks to the combined efforts of tech companies, governments, and individuals, life continues to find a way.

GIF: Giphy

Facebook’s new features will help it deal with the increased amount of usage on its servers. More importantly, though, they will help users stay connected at a time when keeping in touch is vital.

Meanwhile, if more people are able to take advantage of audio-only streams rather than live video it could decrease the burden on the Internet. Around the world, governments and organizations have called for bandwidth conservation to ensure that everyone retains Internet access.

In response, major streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Disney+ have temporarily decreased the quality of their content. Likewise, Xbox and PlayStation have slowed their download times.

Facebook’s decision to implement measures of its own isn’t surprising. For now, users won’t notice any changes to their normal live stream experience unless they choose to utilize the new options.


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