NEW YORK -- While the six-hour interruption at Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp caused a lot of inconvenience for casual users, it was far worse for millions of people who rely on these social media sites to communicate with their families, teachers, parents, or other family members.
It was a stark reminder of Facebook's power and reach, as all three services went down Monday.
Many were left devastated by the failure of WhatsApp around the globe. According to Mobile Time, Brazil's most popular messaging app is installed on 99% smartphones.
WhatsApp is essential for Brazilians to communicate with their friends and families, as well as order food. Phone lines were overwhelmed and offices, courts, and other services had difficulty making appointments.
Many thousands of Haitians, both at home and abroad, were worried about the WhatsApp outage.
It is used by more than 11,000,000 people in the country to notify one another of gang violence in certain neighborhoods, or to speak to relatives in the U.S. regarding money transfers and other important matters. It is used by Haitian migrants who travel to the U.S. to locate each other and share important information, such as safe places for sleeping.
Nelzy Mireille (35-year-old woman unemployed who relies on money from relatives abroad) said that she went to a repair shop in Port-au-Prince after her phone started acting up.
She said, "I was still waiting for confirmation on a money transfer from my uncle." "I was so frustrated."
Wilkens Bourgogne 28, complained that he was unable to hear from his love. He was referring to Wilkens Bourgogne's partner who was shopping in the Dominican Republic to buy goods to bring back home to Haiti. He stated that he was worried about her safety due to the violence in their home country.
He said, "Insecurity makes everybody worry."
Residents and emergency workers in rebel-held Syria rely heavily on the internet for communication.
Naser AlMuhawish is a doctor in Syria based in Turkey who monitors coronavirus cases within rebel-held territory in Syria. He said that WhatsApp was the most common communication method with more than 500 workers in the field.
They switched to Skype. However, WhatsApp is more reliable when the internet service is down, he explained. He said that there might have been serious problems if there had been an emergency like shelling, which he needed warning field workers about.
He said, "Fortunately this didn't occur yesterday during the outage."
Hospitals treating COVID-19 victims in the region were then thrown into panic. They lost contact with oxygen providers, who are not located in a fixed area and can be reached via WhatsApp. According to Dr. Fadi Hakim, of the Syrian American Medical Society, one hospital sent staff members searching for oxygen at almost two dozen facilities.
Mary Mejia, a Peruvian dental technician, was unable to perform her job due to the breakdown in Lima. She uses WhatsApp, like most Peruvian doctors, to schedule appointments and order crowns.
She said, "Sometimes the doctor is working on a patient. I need to contact someone for job." To have to make a call and not be there? It is a hassle. This tool is so familiar to us.
Many Africans use WhatsApp to communicate with their relatives in other countries. Tinka's stepdaughter is from Caldwell in Idaho and lost her father Sunday. She could not contact her family in Tanzania to arrange travel for the funeral.
Tinka stated that it was amazing how few people understand the impact of three to four content companies on Internet utility.
Facebook claimed that the outage was caused by an internal error in a configuration change, but did not provide details.
The crisis at Facebook led to the outage. A whistleblower from "60 Minutes" and in Capitol Hill accused Facebook of profiting off hate and division. They also suppressed research that showed how Instagram contributed to body-image problems, eating disorders, and thoughts about suicide among young women.
Small businesses lost hundreds to thousands of dollars in revenue due to outages.
Andrawos Bassous, a Palestinian photographer living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has over 1 million fans on Facebook. His social media content has been created by companies such as Turkish Airlines and Samsung. According to him, the social media blackout made it impossible for him to schedule appointments or share videos online with companies that employ his services.
Bassous stated, "Imagine if a company you work for promised to share their product at a certain time. There is a blackout."
Sarah Murdoch, a small Seattle-based company that specializes in travel called Adventures with Sarah, relies on Facebook Live videos for her tours. According to her, the breakdown resulted in thousands of bookings.
Murdoch stated that she tried other platforms "because I was wary about Facebook" but that none of them were as powerful for the content she creates. Her losses are not as bad as she thought. "It may be only a few people but it hurts enough."
Heather Rader is the owner of How Charming Photography, Linton, Indiana. She photographs schools and sports teams, and creates yard signs from the photos. Although she has her own website, parents and other customers tend to contact her via social media.
She claimed she may have lost up to four photo sessions for $200 per client.
She said that many people have limited access to ordering, booking and other services during a certain time frame. They will go to another person if they don't get a straight answer.
Tarita Carnduff, Alberta, Canada said that she uses Facebook to connect with other parents almost every day and that the outage made it clear how important that support is.
She said, "As a parent of special needs children, it is the only place I found others in comparable positions." It's vital for many of us who would not be able to live without it.
Others, however, concluded that they no longer needed Facebook in their lives.
Anne Vydra stated that she realized she was spending too many hours scrolling through Facebook and commenting on posts that she didn't agree with. On Tuesday, she deleted her Facebook app.
Vydra, who lives and works as a voiceover artist in Nashville, Tennessee said, "I didn’t want it to return." She said, "I realized how much time I was wasting."