When Social Media Giants Stumble

When Social Media Giants Stumble


On Monday, October 4th, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger crashed for over six hours causing confusion and frustration amongst many people. While mostly only a minor inconvenience for those of us here at OHS, this outage highlights the issues surrounding the sheer scope and size of these social media giants and should have all of us pausing to ask some important questions about the matter. 

The effects of this social media outage helped show our over reliance on these platforms and how much they are integrated into our daily lives. The outage caused billions of people to lose the ability to communicate with each other, politicians could not use their major platforms, and global and local businesses could not fully function. Perhaps most importantly, although often forgotten or simply ignored, many people in developing countries were cut off from the internet all together. 

The outage of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus demonstrated Facebook’s influence in many developing countries. In places like India, Myanmar, and Nigeria, the outage cut off the internet for over 500 million people. Many people in these countries could not connect with their loved ones and friends for a long stretch of time. The outage also cut out the internet for many businesses including law firms and many small local businesses who could no longer sell their products online.

The outage of Facebook and its apps such as Instagram and Oculus, caused many people to not be able to use their smart devices or certain shopping websites. Many home appliances connected to the internet also were not able to function as they couldn’t be accessed. The reliance on smart appliances and the move towards smart homes meant that many thermostats, security cameras, and doorbell cameras were down. These are all important devices that many people now rely on for both safety and comfort. 

 At around 6:30pm on Monday, Facebook tweeted that their apps were starting to work again after more than six hours of being offline. A few hours later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are coming back online now.” Zuckerberg followed this up by stating that he was “Sorry for the disruption today” and that he knew “many people rely on their services to be connected with the ones they care about”.

Facebook would also go on to apologize to the people that use their platforms. Facebook said, “To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry…We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.”

When addressing the issue, Facebook said that the problem was probably caused by a “DNS” (Domain name system) issue. At around 1pm, this was confirmed by Cisco, a networking hardware company, after they ran several tests to find the origin of the issue. DNS is a tool that allows computers to connect with websites. Without DNS, websites will not be able to load or refresh.

 With all of these negative effects around the globe brought on by one company having a failure in its network, many people have begun to wonder. Why should one company, mainly under the control of one man, have so much power and influence over the world around us?

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