On October 4, 2021, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram experienced downtime, leading to total disruption of business and interpersonal communications across the world. Report has it that the sites were down at exactly 11:30am. Downdetector, an organisation which tracks downtime of new technologies, describes the Facebook outage as the largest ever seen its platform with over 14 million problem reports submitted across the world.
Our examination of the public interest and fear about the site and others shows that the world interest in knowing the downtime and its impacts throughout the world was at a slow pace between 08:04pm and 16:28pm before picking some seconds and minutes after. The trend continued till 23:48 before declining 07:56 on October 5, 2021, the time which shows the possible return of the sites after several hours of working on bringing them to the previous functional position.
Our analyst reports that the late interest in seeking information about the downtime of all the social networking sites could linked with the fact that majority of the users were aware of the downtime late. According to our analyst, the downtime period, which is in the morning and fell within the working time belts for most people could also be considered as a significant factor in seeking information about the outage of the sites.
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Exhibit 1: Countries with the Number of Reports during the Downtime
During the jittery period, it is obvious that the world wanted to know the downtime of Facebook in relation to WhatsApp, Facebook downtime in connection with understanding Instagram and WhatsApp in line with Instagram. Ninety-eight percent of the world interest in WhatsApp could be discerned from the interest in Instagram. This is closely followed by Facebook, which accounted for 97.3% in Instagram. More than 93% of the interest in Facebook could be determined from the interest in WhatsApp.
In Nigeria, interest in these sites was high to the extent that it was the top search of the day. This is really surprising to our analyst, who have been tracking what Nigerians and other nationals in the country are searching daily since January 2021. Any of the most used social networking sites has never made it to the top five of the most areas of interests being considered in the data collection procedure.
Having Interest in Why Facebook Downtime Doesn’t Mean Submitting Reports
In terms of number of users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, there are mixed statistics on the countries the with highest number of people deploying the sites for personal and business purposes. According to a July 2021 report, India is the leading country in terms of Facebook use based on its over 340 million people using the site. The United States, Indonesia and Brazil have over 200 million, 140 million and 130 million users respectively, making them followers of India. For Instagram, India still occupies the leading position while the United States follows, Brazil and Indonesia.
Existing statistics on the number of users of WhatsApp looks complex. This is hinged on the fact that producers of the statistics adopted a share of total internet users against the number of the site users and also considered the site market share alone. For instance, based on July 2021 statistics, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Colombia, Brazil, Turkey, Spain and Indonesia are the top countries with the number of WhatsApp users based on the share of total internet users. Surprisingly, people in Brazil, Malaysia and Colombia only developed significant interest in understanding WhatsApp downtime.
Exhibit 2: Countries with Highest Percentage of Interest in Facebook during the Downtime
Top 25 affected countries [see Exhibit 1] submitted a total of 8,896,273 problem reports. Analysis shows that the interest of people in these countries in Facebook downtime connected with the number of reports submitted by 33.7%. This suggests that when people in the United States of America and others [see Exhibit 3] developed 1% interest in understanding the downtime of the social networking site, the percentage translates to 33.7% of submitting problem reports to Downdetector.
However, our analysis only establishes 11.4% of actual submission of problem reports to Downdetector. With this, our analyst notes that people in the top 25 affected countries, where problem reports were submitted, might have explored other means of understanding the site downtime not only the Google Search Engine, which normalised the world interest in the site during the downtime.
Exhibit 3: Countries with Interest in Facebook during downtime and number of problem reports submitted [in percentage]
Exhibit 4: Countries with Highest Percentage of Interest in WhatsApp during the Downtime Period
Is the World Moving Towards Possible Global Technology Lockdown?
This month downtime is not the first time the social networking sites are not functioning as expected. There are several reports that establish micro hitches while using the sites. To our analyst, the recent lockdown occasioned by the spread of Covid-19 further indicates that the world cannot survive without technologies. The first wave of the virus forced a number of people to use new technologies and technology-driven devices they hardly use before the pandemic. Indeed, the ongoing pandemic is changing how people and businesses use technologies.
While the emerging issues and needs are pointing towards the need to consider and prioritise certain technologies for personal and business use, the big question remains their present use without jeopardising the chance of using them in the future. In every concept, sustainability remains the key element of the concept to the survival of the system where it is being applied. This is also applicable to every object being considered or used for personal, business and societal growth.
No doubt, the world without technologies would be difficult for people and businesses to be. This is the main reason the world needs tech-companies that can create and deliver sustainable value. This is not sufficient. They also need to ensure protection of every user’s data because our checks reveal that some people believe that the downtime is an artificial one with the intent of stealing users’ data.