For more than five hours on Monday, the world has tasted life without Facebook and its apps.
People in many places have discovered that Facebook and its apps have entered almost every aspect of their existence.
In Mexico, politicians were isolated from their constituencies. In Turkey, shopkeepers could not sell their wares. And in Colombia, a non-profit organization that uses WhatsApp has undermined their work to connect victims of gender-based violence to life-saving services.
“Since we have a field team, we’ve been able to mitigate today’s confusion with more serious risks,” said Alex Berryhill, the group’s director of digital operations, Cossas de Mujeres. “But that may not be the case with hundreds of other hotlines around the world. Today was a big reminder: technologies are tools, not solutions.
Monday’s Facebook disturbance was a planet-scale display of how much the company’s services have become necessary in daily life. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are more than just easy tools for chatting and sharing photos for a long time. These are important platforms for doing business, arranging medical services, conducting virtual classes, running political campaigns, responding to emergencies and much more.
In some parts of the developing world, the cost of Facebook disruption was particularly pronounced. In India, Latin America and Africa, its services have become almost universally useful, usually cheaper than a phone call and rely on a lot of communication and commerce in daily life.
The discomfort about a single corporation that mediates so much human activity inspires a lot of verification-selection around Facebook.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has filed a no-confidence motion against the company, alleging it has acquired Instagram and WhatsApp to assert its dominance. EU policymakers are drafting comprehensive regulations that will undermine the company’s power.
Whistle-blower Frances Hausen, Facebook has been on fire for weeks after sharing internal documents, which the company knew was making Instagram worse than teen-aging body-image problems and that it had a two-tier justice system. The revelations have sparked criticism from regulators and the public. On Tuesday, Congress heard Ms. Hausen’s testimony about Facebook’s impact on young users.
Much of the recent criticism of Facebook is that company leaders decide to govern, run and make money from their platforms – or fail to do so – but another consequence of Facebook’s size is that many more people suffer when the company says there are technical flaws responsible for Monday’s disruption.
The disruption has prompted renewed calls for further oversight of the largest technology platforms in Brussels, the center of the European Union – where many government workers have turned to rival messaging service signals to communicate amid concerns about Facebook’s reach.
“In the global digital space, everyone can feel the shutdown,” European Commissioner Thierry Breton is drafting new technology rules. Said on Twitter. “Europeans deserve better digital resilience through control, fair competition, strong connectivity and cyber security.”
In India, Brazil and other countries, WhatsApp has become so important to the functioning of society that regulators should consider it a “utility”, said Parminder Jeet Singh, executive director of IT for Change, a technology-based non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India. .
In India and other Asian countries where Facebook apps are popular, people fell asleep through outages, which happened overnight for them. But Mr Singh said the disruption still showed why regulators needed to monitor Internet giants more closely.
Worldwide, 2.76 billion people use at least one Facebook product per day this June, according to company figures. Data firm Sensor Tower estimates that WhatsApp is used to send more than 100 billion messages a day, and that Facebook has been downloaded nearly six billion times since it was purchased.
According to the censor tower, about a quarter of these installations were in India, the other quarter were in Latin America. Only 4 percent, or 238 million downloads, were in the United States.
In Latin America, Facebook apps can be a literal lifeline in rural areas where cellphone service has not yet arrived but internet is available and in poor communities where people cannot carry mobile data but get free internet connection.
Colombian nonprofit Cossas de Mujeres interacts with hundreds of Colombian women and Venezuelan immigrant women each month who face domestic and psychological violence or are at risk of trafficking or sexual exploitation, said Mrs. Berryhill, director of the Digital Operations Agency.
“WhatsApp is a very important tool for our service,” he said. “Usually our phone operators receive messages from women all day through WhatsApp, but that was not possible and the women could not contact us.”
Maria Elena Diwas, a 51-year-old Venezuelan immigrant in Bogota, Colombia, uses WhatsApp to order breakfast like the Empanas.
“I didn’t sell anything today,” Mrs. Divas said. “It was a tough day for everyone like me.”
Across Africa, Facebook apps are so popular that for many, they are the Internet. The company has entered into agreements with many carriers to make its services accessible over the phone without data charges.
WhatsApp, easily the most popular messaging app on the continent, has become an effective one-stop shop for communicating with friends, colleagues, business, co-worshipers and neighbors.
In the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, everything from shoes and jewelry to plants and household appliances can be ordered for delivery from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. In Johannesburg, vendors were isolated from the Facebook Marketplace, which used to sell everything from used cars to wigs and even rug-wrought iron shacks, colloquially known as jojos.
WhatsApp usage has grown so much that at one point it was responsible for almost half of all Internet traffic in Zimbabwe. During Monday’s outage, Tanzania’s main government spokesman Used Twitter Encourage the public to “stay calm”.
Elsewhere, people have said that the disappearance of Facebook apps has somehow hampered their work, but it has eliminated a noise confusion that makes them feel better and more productive.
James Chambers was initially terrified of Chase Angela, the Canadian bakery in Brandon, Manitoba, for him and his wife. They usually post four to five times on Facebook and Instagram to attract customers to the store, but Monday suggested social media promotions may not be so important.
“As the days go by, we’ve actually seen a lot more people come in and say it’s better to disconnect,” he said. “We’ve closed more than 30% of our normal Monday sales.”
German comedian John Bohmermann, Tweeted That he wished Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp would be offline forever. His post received about 30,000 likes.
Brazilian pharmacy chain Drogasmill now takes many of its prescription orders via WhatsApp, said Rafael Silva, a druggist pharmacist in Rio de Janeiro.
On Monday, no one was there, but since he and his colleagues couldn’t chat on WhatsApp, the day felt “more serene”.
Out of habit, Lauren Barbosa, 25, a cashier at the pharmacy, found WhatsApp repeatedly refreshing herself on Monday. Yet, he said, he also found the day more peaceful and fruitful.
“I think it shows that we can live without technology,” he said.
In Brazil, surveys show that WhatsApp is installed on almost every smartphone in the country, and most Brazilians check the app by phone at least once an hour.
As WhatsApp became known in Brazil, restaurants in “Zap” take orders, supermarkets coordinate deliveries and book doctor, hairdresser and cleaner appointments. During the epidemic, the app became an important tool for teachers to teach students in remote areas of the country. It was also central to spreading misinformation.
In Russia, the authorities took this aggression as further evidence that they needed to regulate their social media more and develop domestic alternatives.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the disruptions “answer the question of whether we need our own social media and internet platforms”.
Moscow has sought to increase control over foreign social media as it has broken dissent, especially as anti-government activists used Twitter and Facebook to organize protests in January.
But elsewhere, people focused on their inability to use tools that have become important for mass communication and retail.
Selene Bayrak, owner of a small shop in Istanbul who sells spicy jams and sauces, said 80 percent of her sales were usually done via Instagram. He estimated that he would have sold only a quarter of what he had sold yesterday if Instagram had not been shut down.
In Mexico, many small-town newspapers cannot carry print editions, so they publish on Facebook instead. Political adviser Adrian Pascoe said it left local governments without physical outlets to issue important announcements, so they also took to Facebook.
A municipality Mr. Pascoe suggested that he could not launch his new service on Monday because the site was closed. He said the announcement would be made on Wednesday instead.
“Facebook has become the most powerful means of communication,” he said. Pascoe says. “You go there when you want the public.”
Leon David Perez’s two companies, including Polymatia, which offers e-learning courses, rely on Facebook and Instagram to market their products. The customer service department is managed on WhatsApp.
“The way businesses operate, it’s been an insane change over the last 20 years,” David said. “Back then, we had no community online. Now we are hyper-connected, but for everything we rely on a few tech companies. When WhatsApp or Facebook is down, we all go down. ”
Was contributed by reporting Maria Abi-Habib, Ian Austen, Linsey ran, Abdi Latif Dahir, Steven Grayton, Valerie Hopkins, Jack Nikas, Adam Satariano, Christopher F. And Julie Turquitz.