Apr 9, 2020 - Technology

Daily phone calls in the coronavirus era are outpacing Mother's Day

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans' desire for more human connection as the coronavirus pandemic forces them to stay at home is leading to a surge in phone calls, the New York Times reports.

By the numbers: Verizon told the Times it is now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day throughout the week — more than double the number of calls it handles on Mother's Day, which is typically one of the busiest call days of the year.

  • AT&T said its number of calls has risen 35%, while the length of calls has also increased by 33%.
  • Meanwhile, internet traffic is up 20% to 25% on average per day.

Why it matters: Telecommunication companies were expecting to see a surge in internet use, but hadn't anticipated seeing such large spikes in phone calls. The spike in phone calls is especially surprising given how long it's been in decline.

  • The increase in calls is for both personal and business purposes. Prior to the outbreak, calls generally peaked in the morning and evening.
"For years, we've seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices. The move to staying at home has reignited people's hunger to stay connected, voice to voice."
— Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

2 hours ago - Economy & Business