DISCONNECTED BY SOCIAL MEDIA

Much of today’s “simple” technology is centred around the chocolate bar or more popularly referred by it’s American term, “candy bar” telephone without wires or wireless telephone or cellular phone (1 phone = 1 cell)? “You used to call me on my cell phone”.

Three of arguably the most popular applications (apps) in the world which are Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram; had an outage for over six hours late yesterday (October 5th) until early today (October 6th).

What happened? Facebook revealed in an official blog post on Monday evening that the six-hour outage across its platforms including Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp, and OculusVR were caused by configuration changes to its routers. The company said these changes disrupted network traffic between the company’s data centres. (Sankara)

Why the need for configuration changes to the routers? Why fix something that is not broken? There were several other reasons, all of which Facebook was alleged to have agreed were causes, too. So, was it one reason or several reasons that caused these sites to go down? We may never know.

Facebook and Instagram seemed to have been attracting news of them monopolizing social media, including advertising, invading the privacy of its users and by imposing what these apps believe should be the best fit for its users’ lifestyles.

This leads us to suspicion – could Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram have been hacked?

There is news going around Facebook and Whatsapp (now that they are up and running) that a 13 year old Chinese boy hacked these sites and even prevented site administrators from accessing the sites. This is probably fake news.

China has blocked these social media platforms for years. The Chinese competitors to these apps must have been rubbing their hands with glee when these three social media giants were down. Wonder if TikTok had a surge in users during this period.

Twitter was reported having a field day because they were still up and running as usual.

I think there would have been a frenzy of untold magnitude that went into overdrive.

For one, all those people who immersed themselves in the “make believe world” these apps masquerade themselves as, sort of suddenly realized that there is a world that actually exists beyond these apps. And they don’t know what to do with themselves. Perhaps, forgotten how to deal with “real” people.

Another reason for the frenzy is that people use Facebook to log into many of their apps either on their computers or smart devices. There may have been people who were automatically logged out when Facebook went down.

As for me, I felt disconnected, a bit lost for a few minutes. I had pictures on my Whatsapp chat which I was planning to use for my next essay. I wanted to start working on it yesterday.

Though these three apps came back on line, maybe… just maybe…, some people… not all users, will now take precautionary steps not to put all their eggs in one basket. It may be wiser to log in to apps using email instead of going through Facebook. It may be a bit more work to log in this way. Just a minute….Wasn’t gmail down recently? And for a few days?

The old…er folks will be reminiscing the good old days of pen & paper. No uptime / downtime to worry about. No need for electricity, or signal reception or even bad weather conditions that may affect signal reception. Except pen & paper seems antiquated. You can carry a collection of encyclopedias on your phone or share thousands of photos to almost everyone around the world…simultaneously.

Just when we thought we were on top of everything, that we’ve got this; this blackout shows we don’t. It looks like we are back to square one, where everything is not as perfect as it seems.

I am glad that these three social media apps are up, running again. I think they are good for people, especially family and friends who can connect with each other across the globe.

You used to call me on my cell phone, late night when you did not Snapchat, Tiktok, Facebook, Tweet…

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Coffee, anyone?

Drake – Hotline Bling

Note:

  1. Vishwa, Sankara, Indy/Life, October 5th, 2021; https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/facebook-six-hour-outage-cause-b1932382.html

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