Last night, social media users globally flocked to Twitter due to the outage of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and other related platforms.

From 5 pm – 11 pm GMT on 4th October 2021, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp went down, meaning users could not access any Facebook related content. It has been reported that an internal technical issue caused the outage, the Domain Name System (DNS), affecting Facebook’s services and their employees’ work emails and passes. The DNS allows web addresses to take users to their destination.

Other platforms associated involving apps and systems that require Facebook logins were also down. There were reports of people being unable to use their thermostats, virtual reality headsets, smart TVs, and apps such as Pokémon Go – all requiring Facebook logins.

What happened during the fault?

Millions of users worldwide were affected, with as many as 10.6 million problems reported; however, many more were likely affected as there are 3.5 billion users of these applications globally. Businesses and influencers were affected financially and mentally as increasing numbers of people rely on social media as income. Influencing is now a multi-billion-dollar industry, valued at $13.8 billion in 2021, up from $1.6 billion in 2016. Social Media usage is at around 61% of the world’s population and has grown by over half a billion users in the past 12 months, meaning more people than ever were affected.

Twitter, Reddit and similar used their media to prompt responses from users and the affected platforms alike. #FacebookDown was trending on Twitter, and users reported moving back and forth between the two apps, waiting for Facebook to restart, whilst ‘meme watching’ on Twitter.

Twitter seemed to revel in Facebook’s downfall; their Tweet ‘hello literally everyone’ gained 2.4 million ‘likes’ in just 4 hours and later surpassed the 3 million mark.  However, it also experienced issues; the site reportedly slowed down due to the traffic from Facebook and Instagram. Twitter users claimed that they recognised the strain on the platform, with the phone app taking longer to refresh new activity. There were also some experiencing issues with Snapchat and Gmail – also due to an inundation of usage.

What was the aftermath?

Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg later apologised on Facebook, saying, ‘Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.’ Zuckerberg was reported to have suffered financially due to share prices plummeting – meaning he lost around $6 billion (£4.4bn) throughout the six-hour shutdown.

The outage has begged the question: Are we too reliant on social media in the modern world? It has previously been proven that social media is addictive both physically and psychologically, but is this a bad thing, or is the contemporary world simply evolving?

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