It was just an ordinary Wednesday until the largest #firstworldproblem happened on March 13, 2019: Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms shut down for over 12 hours. According to CNN Business, the outage ran across the globe ranging from the U.S., Central and South America and Europe.
Funny enough, I actually had no idea of this event until that evening. An article from Forbes confirmed that users claimed and reported failures of loading pages and logging in with a following error message. Did they try turning it off and back on again? As hard as it is to believe, it was much more than just resetting your phone.
Frustration grew amongst public users and advertisers as well. When social media goes down, the advertising morale is not far behind. Companies lost money through the luck of advertising through these media platforms. According to CNN Business, frustrations led to concerns of a “distributed denial of service (DDos) attack—a type of hack in which attackers flood a company’s network” which were assumed after the blackout. Facebook confirmed from a tweet that this was not the case.
After scrolling through both conglomerates’ newsroom pages, it was concerning to notice no press releases were written about the problem. Facebook and Instagram both turned to their rival, Twitter, to update the public. How ironic. Facebook tweeted the following day, “Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services.” Twitter thrived that day with several humorous tweets and memes blowing up users’ feed with comedic relief in light of the event. Meanwhile, MySpace probably longed at the chance of a comeback.
From a public relations standpoint, it definitely took several hours too long for Facebook’s PR team to roll out an explanation of the issues, and Facebook did not go into enough depth about the reasoning of the problems. I think this looked sketchy and concerning for users and companies, confirming their right to think it was an attack. Alongside a source from ABC News, I agree that a lack of transparency with such a dominant company does not look appealing when dealing with advertisers and partnerships. In addition to Facebook privacy issues, this shutdown has become yet another publicity concern for this growing conglomerate. Yet, very few of us will actually stop to lift ourselves free of social media.
Somehow and some way on the day of the internet blackout, people continued about their daily lives interacting face to face, not filtering their meals and soaking in the scene just for their eyes only. After much troubleshooting, the social media platforms were back in business the following morning.