Social Media Crush! the next time it goes off again, what will we do?  

The world internet communication giants Facebook – along with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp crashed down for more than 7 hours on Monday, October 4, 2021 for the first time.

The experience described by many as, ‘’terrible’’, also raised eyebrows among users as well as technical experts.

The 3 facilities suddenly went offline at around 4.45 pm on Monday across the globe, thus causing a complete halt to all communications and businesses carried out on them, especially Facebook and WhatsApp.

Reports have it that engineers worked frantically on operation services to get the issue fixed as quickly as possible to help restore services.

But while that work went on behind the scenes, and witty memes were shared on Twitter, the only major medium to reach internet users, there was no explanation for the sudden outage – that also affected a number of some phone networks around the globe too.

Many people who could not suddenly access the facility had resorted to other means of fixing such as buying more data, restarting their phones, among many other factors that they seemed could help until it was globally acknowledged that there was an absolute breakdown of the great internet system.

Many questions arose as to what exactly was happening. In the absence of any real explanation from Facebook, users had to fill in the communication gap.

Technical and malicious were assigned as the two leading causes.

“The speculation that dark forces may have been at work were not surprising, given that in 2019, details of more than 530 million people were leaked in a database online, largely consisting of mobile numbers, following a hack on Facebook. Earlier this year, a leaked email from the firm suggested the social network expected more such incidents and was planning to frame it as an industry problem that was a normal occurrence.”

In the end, Facebook broke the silence. In a statement, it said, “the cause of the outage was a configuration change to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between the company’s data centers, which had a cascading effect, bringing all Facebook services to a halt.”

Facebook Inc. blamed a “faulty configuration change” for a nearly six-hour outage preventing its users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

Coping with the sudden situation was not easy, according to many users. This is because of the enormous benefit derived from the facilities. Indeed, these communication tools, especially Facebook and WhatsApp, have changed the way of life and business operations.

According to the Global Web Index, the average number of social media accounts a millennial or Gen Z-er has is 8.4 worldwide, up 75% from 4.8 accounts in 2014.

As of the end of last year, 2020, 4.5 billion people use social media worldwide, according to platform reports on the current number of active users.  Meaning 56.8% of the world’s population is active on social media when looking at eligible audiences aged 13+ years, rising to 82% in most parts of the world.

Out of 7.87 billion people globally, 56.8% of the population use social networks, regardless of age or internet access. Out of 4.8 billion internet users, 93.33% are active users. Out of 5.27 billion unique mobile phone users, 85% are active users. Out of 4.48 billion social media users, 99% access websites or apps through a mobile device.

As of 2021, WhatsApp is the most popular global mobile messenger app worldwide with approximately two billion monthly active users, outranking Facebook Messenger at 1.3 billion and WeChat at 1.2 billion users. Following Facebook and YouTube, it is the 3rd most popular social network worldwide.

Businesses on these communication facilities are estimated at around US$10 billion a day. Its total assets are US$159.32 billion as of 2020. This was after acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram; Indeed, social media holds the smoking gun.

It is said that “If you’re looking for the next big thing, it would be found on the internet, perhaps on Facebook and its partners. Conversations are happening whether you are there or not.” It has been about the people, providing for the people and the people.

The next time it goes off again, what will we do?

By Nana Sifa Twum, a Media & Communications Consultant.

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