Outage highlights how vital Facebook has become worldwide

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The six-hour blockade 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 want to run their businesses or communicate with relatives, fellow parents, teachers or neighbors. rely on social media sites.

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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 app.

Across the world, the shutdown of WhatsApp has left many people at a loss. According to technical pollster Mobile Time, the messaging service in Brazil is by far the most used app in the country, installed on 99% of smartphones.

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WhatsApp has become essential for communicating between friends and families in Brazil, but also at work – with many businesses using it to stay in touch with customers – in college, and for everyday transactions such as ordering food. .

Offices, various services and even the courts had trouble making appointments, and phone lines were overwhelmed.

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Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in their homeland and abroad were upset by the WhatsApp outage.

Many of the country’s more than 11 million people rely on it to alert each other about mass violence in a particular region or to talk to relatives in the US about money transfers and other urgent issues, while the US The outgoing Haitian migrants depend on it. Or share important information like a safe place to sleep.

Nelzie Mireille, a 35-year-old unemployed woman who relies on money sent from relatives abroad, said she stopped at a phone repair shop in the capital of Port-au-Prince because she thought her phone was faulty.

“I was waiting for confirmation of the money transfer from my cousin,” she said. “I was very disappointed.”

“I wasn’t able to hear from my love,” complained 28-year-old Wilkens Bourgogne, referring to his partner, who was buying cheap stuff to bring back to Haiti in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

She said she was concerned about her safety as they were unable to communicate for seven hours as Haiti struggles with a spike in mass violence.

“Insecurity worries everyone,” he said.

Meanwhile, for small businesses, Facebook and Instagram outages meant the loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in revenue.

“Today’s outage has brought our reliance on Facebook and its assets like WhatsApp and Instagram into sharp relief,” said Brooke Erin Duffy, professor of communications at Cornell University. He said there are vast categories of workers whose livelihood depends on the functioning of the platform.

She said the outage is just one example of how entrepreneurs and small businesses are vulnerable any time Facebook or others introduce a new feature or make some other change that affects the way the sites work. .

Sarah Murdoch runs a small Seattle-based travel company called Adventures with Sarah and relies on Facebook Live videos to promote her tours. He estimated that he lost thousands of dollars in bookings.

“I’ve tried other platforms because I’m wary of Facebook, but none of them are powerful for the type of content I create,” Murdoch said. To her detriment, “It may only be a few people, but we are so small it hurts.”

Heather Linton has run a portrait studio in Linton, Indiana, for 18 years. She photographs and creates yard signs for schools and sports teams. She has her own website but said that parents and other customers often try to reach her through social media.

She said she may have lost three or four bookings for a photo op at $200 per client.

“A lot of people only have a specific window of time when they can do orders and bookings and things like that,” she said. “If they don’t get a straight answer, they go to someone else.”

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AP reporter Evans Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Diane Jeanette in Rio de Janeiro and Deborah Alvares in Brasilia contributed to this report.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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