How the Facebook outage shut down almost an entire country

Panic because the recent Facebook outage had major consequences for an entire country. That’s dangerous game.

“Where were you during the big Facebook outage?” It almost sounds like a disaster that we had to do without our favorite Facebook apps for a few hours last week. An evening without Facebook sounds nice to some people, but Instagram and WhatsApp were also affected. That was less fun for many. We are quite dependent on these apps – often used to send messages to friends and acquaintances.


Yet such a thing should not be called a disaster here. The internet is still there, so grab another app that still works. Or just a ‘nice old-fashioned’ website. There are places where the Facebook outage took its toll on an entire country. In African Nigeria there was quite a lot of panic surrounding the outage. The country is very dependent on Facebook apps.

Panic in Nigeria over Facebook malfunction

It was very annoying for Nigerians that the Facebook apps were down due to the malfunction, because WhatsApp is mainly what makes the world go around there. Texting is not done, almost no calling and FaceTime is also subordinate to all these functions via WhatsApp. That while contacting friends and family sometimes has to be done via the app due to long distance. It caused panic. On the one hand, because there were rumors that the apps would be out for a long time. Again: you know a lot and you can’t ask anyone. So people believed these kinds of rumors, according to a victimized Nigerian. People also build habits that were not possible for a while. Another Nigerian victim said that his grandmother would always call in the evening if she needed medication, because she cannot remember which one to take. That would have been a big problem if this happened during the outage.

Do business

Mainly it was for business. Nigeria has a large digital helpline called Mentally Aware Nigeria where you can go 24 hours a day for emergencies or other forms of help. This service is popular and therefore quite necessary nowadays, but it was also down due to the Facebook outage. A lot of business is also done via WhatsApp. A young entrepreneur says that many people have webshops on WhatsApp, since you can now create an entire virtual catalog there where people can directly message you for orders. When there is such a malfunction, that too is gone and you cannot sell anything. Sounds like a big deal, not being able to take orders for six hours, but if you’re not sure how long it will take and can’t call or text anyone to ask what’s going on, you don’t know how long it’s going to take. The outage made it hard to see just how dependent the country is on Facebook apps.


So that’s pretty dangerous, or at least worrying. It opens up the question of how risky it is to leave everything to Facebook and WhatsApp for an entire country and how to avoid having everything out at the same time. In any case, it ensures that alternatives are currently being looked at in Nigeria. Send messages via Telegram or Signal, for example. (via Wired)

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