Facebook joins YouTube and Netflix in reducing video quality in Europe amid virus pandemic

The founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 15, 2020.

Christof Stache | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook is reducing video streaming quality in Europe to avoid straining the internet, as more people are forced to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it would temporarily lower so-called bit rates — which measure how much data is being transferred — in the continent, following similar moves from YouTube, Netflix and Amazon.

“To help alleviate any potential network congestion during the #COVID19 crisis, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe,” a spokesperson for the company tweeted late Sunday.

Thierry Breton, an EU industry official, has called on media platforms to switch their video streams to standard definition to help cope with the uptick in internet usage as more people work remotely due to the spread of COVID-19. People across the region are being told to stay at home and adhere to social distancing measures — with some countries in total lockdown — to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

Disney has also committed to reducing strain on the web in Europe by lowering bandwidth utilization for its soon-to-be-launched streaming service, Disney+, by at least 25%. Streaming video can account for over 60% of data transmitted from internet providers to consumers.

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