Facebook and its family of different applications which are massively used by Nigerians and billions of people worldwide have encountered a very big technical trouble that led to general outages worldwide. According to The Newyork Times, Facebook and its family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, were inaccessible for hours on Monday, taking out a vital communications platform used by billions and showcasing just how dependent the world has become on a company that is under intense scrutiny.
Facebook’s apps — which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus — began displaying error messages around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time, users reported. Within minutes, Facebook had disappeared from the internet. The outage lasted over five hours, before some apps slowly flickered back to life, though the company cautioned the services would take time to stabilize.
Even so, the impact was far-reaching and severe. Facebook has built itself into a linchpin platform with messaging, live-streaming, virtual reality and many other digital services. In some countries, like Myanmar and India, Facebook is synonymous with the internet. More than 3.5 billion people around the world use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family, distribute political messaging, and expand their businesses through advertising and outreach.
Facebook is used to sign in to many other apps and services, leading to unexpected domino effects such as people not being able to log into shopping websites or sign in to their smart TVs, thermostats and other internet-connected devices.
Technology outages are not uncommon, but to have so many apps go dark from the world’s largest social media company at the same time was highly unusual. Facebook’s last significant outage was in 2019, when a technical error affected its sites for 24 hours, in a reminder that a snafu can cripple even the most powerful internet companies.
This time, the cause of the outage remained unclear. It was unlikely that a cyberattack was the culprit because a hack generally does not affect so many apps at once, said two members of Facebook’s security team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Security experts said the problem most likely stemmed instead from a problem with Facebook’s server computers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Facebook apologized for the outage. “We’re sorry,” the company said on Twitter after its apps started becoming accessible again. “Thank you for bearing with us.”
The outage added to Facebook’s mounting difficulties. For weeks, the company has been under fire related to a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who amassed thousands of pages of internal research. She has since distributed the cache to the news media, lawmakers and regulators, revealing that Facebook knew of many harms that its services were causing, including that Instagram made teenage girls feel worse about themselves.
The revelations have prompted an outcry among regulators, lawmakers and the public. Ms Haugen, who revealed her identity on Sunday online and on “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify on Tuesday in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users.
“Today’s outage brought our reliance on Facebook — and its properties like WhatsApp and Instagram — into sharp relief,” said Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor of communications at Cornell University. “The abruptness of today’s outage highlights the staggering level of precarity that structures our increasingly digitally-mediated work economy.”
When the outage began on Monday morning, Facebook and Instagram users quickly used Twitter to lament and poke fun at their inability to use the apps. The hashtag #facebookdown also started trending. Memes about the incident proliferated.”
Even here in Nigeria, many Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram users start exchanging pleasantries and teasing one another that those apps are not to be trusted as the ultimate way of communication. A Facebook user, called Abdullahi, posted that: “I am happy we are old, we came all the way from the time when there were no social media and I feel we were not taken by surprise as we are not like the boys of today, whose life is largely dependent on Facebook, as that’s the only thing they know”. Abdul’aziz, another user said “I didn’t even know that it happened. While another Facebook user was shocked and he said, “I thought it is the end of time”. Another user opined that “what do you think if it is Oxygen that is stopped for certain hours”! Users continue to say their minds as Facebook and its family apps are resuscitated back to life.
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