ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After a mass outage left billions of people unable to access Facebook and its other apps for nearly six hours on Monday, local experts are warning users to diversify their digital presence.
The social media giant went dark after what it called “configuration changes” disrupted service.
“In the technology world that we live in, unfortunately, things happen,” said Paul Robinson, the National Sales Director at Pittsford cybersecurity firm Infinite Group Inc.
The outage affected not only users, but also locked out engineers who were working to solve the problem remotely, and this is not the first time. The company experienced a similar incident back in 2019.
But, with Instagram, and Whatsapp down as well, experts say it’s rare for multiple major platforms to crash at once exposing how interconnected it is with the internet and economy.
“You can’t post pictures of what you are for lunch and you know mattes like that. I think we can survive a couple of days without those things but when you start to think about other critical services like banking or public utilities that could experience a situation like this,” said Robinson.
The outage was a stark reminder that many of the most popular ways to communicate are controlled by one company, Facebook. A serious issue for people who rely on social media sites to communicate with friends, or family.
“2.76 billion people use at least one Facebook product a day. I think Facebook and What’s App and company were lucky the outage happened when most of South East Asia and Africa were asleep. Because in places like that Whatsapp is the prime means of communication,” said Mike Johansson, Professor of Communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Johansson also says people who use Facebook credentials to log into things like GrubHub or other applications may want to create separate log-in information. Small businesses should also beware.
“In my own consultancy, I’ve come across businesses that say ‘I don’t need a website I have a Facebook page.’ Well, that’s great but Facebook controls it, you don’t. It’s great access, but it’s in the hands of a big corporation,” said Johansson. “You might want to seriously consider having a web store of your own. It’s really not that expensive to set one up. There are lots of free tools and lots of free website building tools,”
According to Facebook, more than three million businesses use the platform for sales and advertising.
But, the outage is not the only hurdle Facebook had to overcome this week.
“With the whistleblower testifying today, an outage that lasted some five or six hours is the least of Facebook’s problems,” said Amit Batabyal, Professor of Economics at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Tuesday, a former Facebook data scientist testified on Capitol Hill that the company failed to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teens. Batabyal said the outage temporarily disrupted Facebook stocks but, they bounced back at the opening Bell.