Outage? How the Loss of Facebook & Instagram Could Affect Us
Manila/ Digital/ Apps

Meta Outage: What if Facebook or Instagram Disappeared Completely?

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“Can you guys access Facebook?” “My Instagram is down!”

On March 5, 2024, social media users around the world lamented about being logged out or unable to refresh their social media pages. Posts on X (formerly Twitter), which remained accessible, showed a multitude of users from the United States all the way to the Philippines wondering if they’d been hacked — or whether the world was ending. Funny as it was, because both Facebook and Instagram came back online after a few hours, the incident highlighted people’s reliance on both social media platforms.

For a country like the Philippines, being unable to access these platforms could prove detrimental both socially and economically. The loss of Facebook or Instagram, which is accessed by over 94% of people online in the Philippines, could affect lives and individuals.

Loss of Economy

iphone instagram feed

Online businesses are booming in the Philippines. Further boosted by the pandemic, online shops and e-commerce platforms contributed around US$17 billion in 2021, largely due to an active base of 73 million online users. While not all businesses are active on Facebook or Instagram — with Shopee, Lazada, and Zalora taking the lead — plenty of MSMEs rely heavily on social media to market and conduct business. The loss of a social network of customers and supporters could prove detrimental to micro-entrepreneurs who do not necessarily have the backing that larger e-commerce platforms have.

That’s not to say that larger e-commerce platforms would not be at a disadvantage should Instagram and Facebook suddenly disappear. Sites such as these do rely on advertising through social media, where mindless scrolling feeds algorithms that drive business through external links.

Loss of Contact

laptop video call

If you’ve ever ridden a jeep or a bus during the dreaded Manila rush hour, you’re likely to notice that everyone is on their phones. Most are chatting with friends, family, or even coworkers. Filipinos love to stay connected, so much so that the Philippines was dubbed the "texting capital of the world." Although that shifted with the introduction of social media and other related apps, Filipinos still prefer to send their messages as often as possible.

Due to the availability, convenience, and versatility of data plans provided by local telecommunications companies, most Filipinos are now reliant on apps such as Facebook and Messenger to communicate. This is in contrast to how people would keep in touch just two decades ago, where most have bid farewell to personal landlines or clunky SMS.

In a world where Wi-Fi connection is easily available — with free access in most public spaces — messaging apps are the new norm, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

Loss of Memory

iphone taking picture in the woods

They may be cringey, but Instagram and Facebook photos from years past are still nice to look back on, which is why Facebook launched “Memories.” Before the resurgence of film cameras, people in the mid-2010s preferred to upload albums on Facebook. Do you remember the thrill of getting that tag notification?

Meanwhile, those looking to document their day put tidbits of their life on Instagram. I’m sure we all know people — or are among the many — who sometimes forget what happened last weekend and simply turn to our archived stories to remember.

While perhaps not as detrimental as the loss of economy or loss of contact with loved ones, the loss of memory that could come with the hyperbolic shutdown of these social media apps is likely to be just as painful. After all, we don't print as many photos (or don't do it at all) and keep them in physical albums anymore.

In the end, we have to admit: we’re all pretty much reliant on the World Wide Web. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing; it is simply a mark of the 21st century.

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