Failure shows how important Facebook has become worldwide | Chicago News


Video: A major failure paralyzes Facebook platforms. In addition, the whistleblower Frances Haugen gives vivid testimony to the alleged greed of Facebook. Jacob Furst, director of the School of Computing at DePaul University, and Kristian Hammond, computer science professor at Northwestern University, discuss “Chicago Tonight”. (Produced by Leslie Hurtado)

NEW YORK (AP) – The six hour outage on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp was a headache for many casual users, but far more severe for the millions of people around the world who rely on social media sites to do their business or with relatives communicate. Co-parents, teachers or neighbors.

When all three services went dark on Monday, it was a stark reminder of the power and reach of Facebook, which owns the photo-sharing and messaging apps.

All over the world, the WhatsApp breakdown has left many perplexed. In Brazil, the messaging service is by far the most widespread app in the country and is installed on 99% of smartphones, according to the polling institute Mobile Time.

WhatsApp has become indispensable in Brazil for communicating with friends and family, but also for a variety of other tasks, such as ordering food. Government agencies, various services, and even the courts had trouble making appointments, and the phone lines were congested.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in their home country and abroad were concerned about the WhatsApp outage.

Many of the country’s 11 million plus residents rely on warning one another about gang violence in certain neighborhoods or speaking to relatives in the United States about money transfers and other important matters. Haitian migrants traveling to the US rely on finding each other or sharing vital information such as safe sleeping places.

Nelzy Mireille, a 35-year-old unemployed woman dependent on money from relatives abroad, said she stopped at a repair shop in the capital, Port-au-Prince, thinking her phone was broken.

“I was waiting for confirmation of a money transfer from my cousin,” she said. “I was so frustrated.”

“I couldn’t hear of my love,” complained 28-year-old Wilkens Bourgogne, referring to his partner who was buying goods in the neighboring Dominican Republic to bring them back to Haiti. He said he was concerned for her safety because of the violence in her home country.

“Everyone worries about uncertainty,” he said.

In rebel-held Syria, where telecommunications infrastructure was destroyed by the war, residents and rescue workers rely primarily on Internet communications.

Naser AlMuhawish, a Turkey-based Syrian doctor who monitors coronavirus cases in rebel areas in Syria, said WhatsApp is the main communication method used with over 500 workers on the ground.

They switched to Skype, but WhatsApp works better when internet service is shaky, he said. If there had been an emergency like fire that he had to warn the sales force about, there could have been big problems, he said.

“Fortunately, that didn’t happen yesterday during the outage,” he said.

But hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in the area panicked. They lost contact with oxygen suppliers who do not have a fixed location and are usually reached via WhatsApp. One hospital sent staff to nearly two dozen facilities to look for oxygen, said Dr. Fadi Hakim from the Syrian American Medical Society.

In Lima, Peru, the collapse of dental technician Mary Mejia made work difficult. Like most Peruvian health professionals, she uses WhatsApp for a variety of tasks, including making appointments and ordering crowns.

“Sometimes the doctor is working on a patient and I need to contact a technician,” she said. “To take a step back and have to make a phone call? It is killing us. We got so used to this tool. “

Millions of Africans use WhatsApp for all of their voice calls, so “people felt cut off from the world,” said Mark Tinka, a Ugandan who leads development at SEACOM, a South Africa-based internet infrastructure company.

Many Africans also use WhatsApp to get in touch with relatives in other countries. Tinka’s stepdaughter lives in Caldwell, Idaho, and lost her father on Sunday, but was unable to speak to her family in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to arrange travel for the funeral.

“It’s amazing how few people understand the impact of three or four content companies on the benefits of the Internet,” said Tinka.

Facebook said the outage was due to an internal bug related to a “configuration change,” but didn’t provide any details.

The outage came amid a crisis on Facebook, accused by a whistleblower on 60 Minutes and on Capitol Hill of profiting from hatred and division, and stifling research showing that Instagram is affecting body image issues, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts in young women contributes.

For small businesses, the downtime meant hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Andrawos Bassous is a Palestinian photographer based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank whose Facebook page has more than 1 million followers. He has worked with companies like Samsung and Turkish Airlines to create social media content. He said the blackout on social media resulted in his being unable to book appointments or share videos online for companies that employ him.

“Imagine if you made a promise to one of the companies you work for to share their product at some point and it blacked out,” said Bassous.

Sarah Murdoch runs a small Seattle-based travel company called Adventures with Sarah and relies on Facebook Live Videos to promote their tours. She estimated the glitch cost her thousands of dollars in bookings.

“I’ve tried other platforms because I’m suspicious of Facebook, but none of them are that powerful for the type of content I create,” Murdoch said. As for their losses, “There may be few people, but we’re small enough that it hurts.”

Heather Rader directs How Charming Photography in Linton, Indiana. She takes photos for schools and sports teams and uses the photos to create courtyard signs. She has her own website but said parents and other customers try to reach her primarily through social media.

She said she lost maybe three or four photo session bookings for $ 200 per client.

“A lot of people only have a certain time window when they can order and book and the like,” she said. “If you don’t get a direct answer, go to someone else.”

Tarita Carnduff, from Alberta, Canada, said she connects with other parents on Facebook almost every day, and the failure showed her the importance of that support.

“As a parent with special needs children, this is the only place I’ve found others in similar positions,” she said. “Without them, many of us would be lost.”

But for others, the breakdown led to the conclusion that they need less Facebook in their lives.

Anne Vydra said she found she spends too much free time scrolling and commenting on posts that she disagreed with. On Tuesday, she deleted the Facebook app.

“I didn’t want it to come back,” said Vydra, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee and works as a spokeswoman. She added, “I realized how much of my time was being wasted.”

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