While Facebook made immeasurable efforts to recover its systems from the fall suffered last Monday, October 4, which also affected the other members of its social media family –WhatsApp and Instagram–, in the world all the stories that –al best style of acceleration generated by pandemic conditions in the world - it would have taken weeks or months to weave under normal conditions: speculation about the possible responsibility of Anonymus in the incident, fear of the data leakage of millions of users of the social network and its sister applications, the celebration of competitors, the economic effects for users ... even a Colombian astronomer came out to say that he had predicted the fall, of which if he analyzes everything very thoroughly, references may even appear in the prophecies of Nostradamus.

The incident of 'only 7 hours' was eternal for the company, since according to a statement posted on its site, The failure not only affected social applications, but many of their internal systems and tools, making it more difficult to carry out the diagnosis that finally led to the solution of the problem. The apologies to the customers and the explanation of the incident were posted online:

“Our engineering teams have found that configuration changes to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused problems that disrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a standstill. '

NetData firm notes that Facebook's explanations of the cause of the incident point to human error during the configuration change rather than technical problems. Although there is peace of mind that it was not an attack, as was speculated in the first instance, the situation is not positive either.

«The other social networks were affected, as the capacity they supported was extended and they even presented intermittences due to the peak of users who began to use them. This could increase the loss of trust in Facebook, and starting to use others, not so developed and not so secure, can cause the loss of the data that is provided to have access in a moment of urgency”, States Eduardo Peñaloza Carrero, NetData technical engineer.

Affected left and right

In the Wall Street stock market, Monday's fall has represented losses for Facebook of 7,74% in the last 5 days, which if carried to the full month would reach 13%, generated not only by technical failures, but also by accusations by Frances Haugen, a former employee who I report bad practices of the company before the United States Capitol, and by reports published by the Wall Street Journal related to the harmful effects that platforms such as Instagram cause users. Sayings reports were made directly by Facebook, but it was not among the plans to be leaked to the press.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Image: Anthony Quintano (Wikimedia Commons).

The economic fallout from the crash also hit, of course, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, whose fortune fell by $ 5.900 billion during Monday's black day. Zuckerberg is now only the fifth or sixth richest person on the planet (depending on whether the figures are taken from Forbes or Bloomberg, respectively), with a diminished fortune now only reaching $ 117.000 billion or $ 121.000 billion.

But the 7 hours that the world lived without Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were not only eternal for the company, but also for users, who are not only people who use the networks for entertainment purposes, but companies of all sizes that build in them part or all of their commercial operations.

Information published by NetBlocks (an institution that monitors the Internet in order to follow up on issues such as digital rights, cybersecurity and governance) indicates that only during the first hour of the incident there would have been losses for businessmen of more than 160 million dollars.

The NetBlocks tool that allows this calculation is called Cost of Shutdown Tool (cost of drops tool) that calculates the economic impact of a drop in Internet services using indicators from the World Bank, the International Communications Union, Eurostat and the United States Census. When doing the calculation in Colombia, using the variables Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for 7 hours, the result amounts to more than 4,3 million dollars (almost 15.000 million pesos).


Together, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have more than 3.500 billion users in the world.

But Facebook's difficulties stemmed not only from the downfall and from the statements of Frances Haugen. Last Monday the company presented his second motion to have a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dismissed, according to which the company "It illegally maintains its monopoly on personal social networks through years of anti-competitive conduct."

«After extensive research –Said the FTC through a publication on its website– In cooperation with a coalition of attorneys general from 46 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, the complaint alleges that Facebook has undertaken a systematic strategy, including the 2012 acquisition of its emerging rival Instagram, the 2014 acquisition of the messaging app mobile WhatsApp and imposing anti-competitive conditions on software developers to eliminate threats to their monopoly. This course of conduct hurts competition, leaves consumers with few options for personal social media, and deprives advertisers of the benefits of competition.

And as 'when the fallen fall', as if all the above were not enough, on the same Monday, October 4, information was published according to which the data of 1.500 million users of Facebook in the world would have been stolen and would be being sold on the network. Without giving more details, Facebook denied this information.

The 'winners' with the fall of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram

Although the mockery of Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter, will pass to the anecdote in the middle of the bad week that Facebook has had, the truth is the companies that received the massive migration of users in need of reestablishing their communications benefited from this situation. … At least, temporarily.

You have to remember that when WhatsApp announced a policy change that would affect the privacy of users, a large number of them turned to other services, such as Telegram. However, many did not go beyond creating an account on said platform, but did not make effective use of it.

Either way, the figures are not to be dismissed: according to Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram, the platform accounted for 70 million new users during the Facebook 'blackout' last Monday. The avalanche, in fact, generated some stability problems that also caused intermittences and lag in the Telegram service.

In Colombia, the communications operator Tigo issued a statement according to which during the day of October 4, voice traffic increased by 32%, text messages (SMS) grew by 26% and data traffic fell by 17 %, compared to the figures of the previous Monday (September 27).

Find information about the psychological effects of the fall of social networks in this text from El Tiempo: 'The fall of WhatsApp and the collective anxiety due to lack of communication'.

Sorry… won't it happen again?

While the fall of Facebook is a lesson so that, in times of omnichannel, those who have online businesses do not put 'all their eggs in the same basket', surely not many contemplated the possibility of 3 networks going down at the same time. After all, what were the odds? Made the accounts after the event, they were all, since Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram belong to the same conglomerate and operate on a common infrastructure, at least in the segment in which the failure occurred.

Although it has not been the longest fall of Facebook - the record is held by one that occurred in March 2019, that lasted for about 14 hours–, The growing dependence on social networks by users, both for personal and entertainment activities as well as for work and economics, makes each new incident more difficult to control and mitigate. It is possible that 7 a.m. on Monday, October 4, was felt more in the company and its customers than at 14 in 2019.

It hasn't been the best week for Facebook. Despite rejecting the statements of Frances Haugen, these are still a stone in the shoe; Wall Street Journal publications only add to the discomfort, and the proceedings under way against the FTC may find new obstacles in other situations to easily get rid of the accusations.

And although it cannot be taken for granted that the migration of users to other platforms to solve Monday's emergency will be permanent, the truth is that the abnormal situation raises doubts for which the company will have to do much more than offer an apology. like the one with which he closes the public report on the fall.

“People and companies around the world trust us every day to stay connected. We understand the impact that interruptions like these have on people's lives, as well as our responsibility to keep YOU informed about interruptions in our services. We apologize to all those affected and are working to understand more about what happened today so that we can continue to improve our infrastructure. "

Other voices of the fall

  • En statements to Voice of America, the president of the Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce, María Fernanda Quiñones, stated: «As an ecosystem we had a very strong impact, because just on Monday we started the sales activation day, of Cyber ​​Monday, which is a program to activate the development of the entire ecosystem and, of course, not having the network available meant attending to other types of tools to be able to promote the day and make it extensive ».
  • Others affected by the situation were reported by Prensa Libre, a Guatemalan media that spoke of the impact of Facebook's crash on cryptocurrency and oil markets. "The WhatsApp outage affected us in our peak operational period, when we encountered US counterparts," said the CEO of BCB Group, a London-based cryptocurrency company.
  • CNN in Spanish too consulted its users through Twitter, Among whom appears the Colombian Colombian Juliana Villa, a resident of Barranquilla who sells men's clothing exclusively through the networks: "This has been shocking since our attention is on the 3 social networks it was only possible to attend and sell until 10 am."

Main Image: Piqsels.