On October 4, 2021, Facebook and its subsidiaries went offline. The outage lasted for six hours during which users couldn’t access Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. These three are the predominant social media apps under Facebook Inc. Facebook alone has more than 2.8 billion users and is the largest social media network worldwide.
Meanwhile, Instagram has more than a billion users and Whatsapp has over two billion users. During the few hours that these apps went offline, users were frantic leading to global frenzy.
Some thought that their accounts were hacked while others blatantly questioned the reliability of the company. Most certainly, the competitors of Facebook were delighted by this glitch. Like the rest of the world, Nepali citizens too were alarmed over Facebook’s outage. Their smartphones were abuzz with this sudden turn of event. And the outage has been termed one of the worst moments for the social media giant whose share price fell significantly. Mark Zuckerberg who is the founder of Facebook wrote a lengthy letter not just to apologize for the outage but also to address the other allegations on his company.
One of his former employees, Frances Haugen became a whistleblower when she leaked documents which showed Facebook prioritising profits over the well-being of its users. When the acclaimed movie, The Social Network was released in 2010, it showed the internal battles between the founders of the growing Facebook Company. At that time, there was a huge buzz in the United States over a cool new app that allowed the users to connect to one another and share their personal information. Facebook was invented in a Harvard dorm and quickly became a staple of college kids. Since then, the company has grown remarkably. With shrewd business acumen, it has acquired Instagram and Whatsapp, securing dominance over the social media circle.
However, what was once a personal and innovative app to facilitate online social network, has now become a company mired in controversies and loopholes. While the millennial generation was once the poster child of Facebook, Gen Z is now addicted to Instagram. And Instagram has become a trending haven for budding talents, artists, influencers and digital creators. It has made careers and supported local businesses like no other social media.
Now, one can find the youth not just pouting for the camera but also building their entrepreneurships through this app. Meanwhile, Whatsapp has grown into a huge messaging app that works expediently even in the remotest part of the world.
Today most businesses and institutions connect with their clients and customers through Whatsapp cementing it as a smart business acquisition by Facebook. However, there are people enraged over the dark underbelly of Facebook Inc. and the negative effects of its apps, especially on the vulnerable youth.
With a smartphone and a connection to the internet, anyone can access these apps. Today lives are lived on screens and scrolling down the feed is a temptation that neither the old nor the young can resist. Facebook has certainly gained an exponential following but it has also come under criticism for its reckless mercenary moves.
October 4, 2021 will not just be a grim day in Facebook's history but also a wakeup call to strengthen both its internal systems and its central values.