As Facebook Floundered, its Rivals Flourished

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg. Image sourced from Inc

On Monday, US-based social media monolith Facebook underwent its worst outage in recent years after its group of platforms all went down for about 6 hours – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were all unusable across devices and ISPs around the world, leaving billions of users without access to important communications channels.

Facebook staff were also unable to access the company’s internal network during the outage. The company has since said that the massive outage was due to a “faulty configuration change.”

Facebook founder, CEO, chairman and chief shareholder, Mark Zuckerberg since apologised to the roughly 3.5-billion people that use Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

“Sorry for the disruption today – I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about,” he said.

Zuckerberg’s problems were just beginning. The founder of the social network lost $7-billion of his net worth due to Facebook’s stocks taking a dive after the outage and new reports from a Facebook insider that blew the lid off the company’s harmful user policies.

Twitter is Still Online

In a day, the social media world saw a shift. Millions flocked to Facebook’s rival apps as they searched for means of communication. On Twitter, people surged to tweet their thoughts on the matter.

Twitter was touted as Facebook’s chief rival in the social space since its launch in 2006, and as the Facebook family of apps were offline, users flocked to the next largest forum to mock Zuckerberg and his woes.

Across South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, the number 1 trend on the platform since the night of the outage were “WhatsApp,” followed closely by #FacebookDown.

Without WhatsApp, Users Rushed to Telegram

WhatsApp counts more than 2-billion people amongst its userbase. That’s over 2-billion users that were unable to use the app across all devices for 6 hours into the evening on Monday.

According to Reuters, rival messaging app Telegram gained over 70-million new users during Facebook’s outage.

“The daily growth rate of Telegram exceeded the norm by an order of magnitude, and we welcomed over 70 million refugees from other platforms in one day,” founder Pavel Durov wrote on his Telegram channel.

The influx was so sudden and so large that Pavel said some users in the Americas may have experienced slower speeds as millions rushed to communicate with others.

“Signal is WhatsUp”

Another WhatsApp competitor, Signal, saw an influx in users after Facebook’s chatting staple went down. According to its official Twitter account, Signal saw “millions” of new users join its service during the outage.

Millions of new people have joined Signal today and our messaging and calling have been up and running but some people aren't seeing all of their contacts appear on Signal. We're working hard to fix this up.

— Signal (@signalapp) October 4, 2021

The chat app was also directly endorsed as a WhatsApp substitute by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, echoing sentiments from noted whistleblower and online privacy advocate, Edward Snowden.

Signal is WhatsUp

🆙 https://t.co/zpRrxf9qKP https://t.co/T23l7Ih6NQ

— jack⚡️ (@jack) October 4, 2021

Snapchat

Image sharing app, Snapchat quietly saw its users surge more than 20% after Facebook’s services collapsed, according to Bloomberg.

Snap Inc. saw a 23% boost in time spent on its Android app compared to the same day the prior week.

The outage of Facebook and its family of apps has opened a new conversation around what it means for a single company to monopolise enormous communication channels like Facebook does with WhatsApp and Instagram. An outage of 6 hours left around 3.2 billion people without their normal chat channels, having them search for alternatives.

“We’ve spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can strengthen our systems against this kind of failure,” Zuckerberg wrote in a note to employees on Tuesday, seen by Bloomberg.

“The deeper concern with an outage like this isn’t how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services.”


By Luis Monzon
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