I have been to Lagos twice all my life, and the traffic jam on my last trip could be an analogy of the global outage that happened on the 4th of October, if not worse. Imagine holding on to the brake for hours while you stare at almost the same things around you because you’re at a spot, not moving. It was just a strike back to days when “the day I can never forget” composition was a thing. From the standpoint of businesses who rely on their social media presence and individuals who use these mediums, it was an a-day-I-can-never-forget moment. Not only was Facebook affected, WhatsApp, Instagram, and the Oculus VR platform were also wallowing in the murky waters that flowed for hours.
Despite it being a shock, I heard some of my friends rebooted their phones countless times, thinking it was their network providers doing their thing again. Funny as it sounds, some have this silent question in their minds: is the world coming to an end already?. Such frustration for more than 5 hours when your means of income is at stake because you have a delivery to make, you have a pending contract to sell, or you have a message to reply, but nothing is loading. These are the end-product of having all your business operations from only a source with a deep reliance on a centralised system.
Permutations and vulnerability: A wake-up
Before now, you would recall that there have been disruptions like this, although that was a cybersecurity issue. In March 2019, Facebook experienced the first of its kind fatal data breach that saw over 500 million users exposed as their passwords were stored in text files. This breach made it easier for unauthorised people have access to private data.
This incident was so gruesome that only a small fraction of about 1000 employees could access few passwords. It was a significant setback that took nearly 24 hours before it was restored. More than Monday’s 6 hours, right? I don’t know if you’re beginning to imagine how frustrating that can be, considering many people rely on such centralised business sources for their income and survival.
However, sadly, 2019 ended with over 300 million users having their details unprotected. These include:
– phone numbers
– names and
– user IDs
The effect of this is that users’ vulnerabilities become so high that they are exposed to spam and phishing attacks. And what happens when your most sensitive details fly over the internet through a cold exposure as this?.
Maybe you’d probably get an apology like what Facebook Engineering posted on Twitter:
“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.“
Keywords to note from the apology
“… who depend on us.“
There are more than 200 million small businesses around the world using Facebook’s tools (Facebook, 2021). This statistic shows the drastic effect on these companies should another outage occur, and now, we aren’t even talking or sure of the hours involved. However, it could be gathered that Mark Zuckerberg lost about $7 billion in the stock standings, which brought him a little below Bill Gates. This metric reflects what other businesses dependent on Facebook must have lost discreetly in the process.
So I ask you,
– How much dependence does your business have on social media?
– What happens to your financial positions and business when another outage occurs for days?
The questions keep coming, and I’m sure those two have aggravated some more wild questions in your mind.
1. “… they are coming back now“
This phrase keeps cracking me up. Why? It’s simply because you only get to see this statement when you have access to the internet. What if you don’t get to see it in a typical-but-unlikely situation? The countless “ifs” that could bring a business below its saturation point keep popping up on the surface like pimples; who would pick it? How would you pick?
What to do:
It would be best to have a pseudo-decentralised system of operating your business even if you have to depend on social media to a reasonable extent. How about having a sharing formula where a more significant percentage of your operation comes from your source, although you could rely a bit on the engagement and exposure from social media.
2. “… thank you for bearing with us“
A German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche asked, “How much truth does a spirit endure, how much truth does it dare?”
As ideally as Friedrich puts this, I ask, how long does your business have to keep enduring what you could change slightly given the recurrent evolutionary demands in the technology landscape?
Like Mark said, “thanks for bearing with me” too. At least that was the same sigh of relief you heaved when the outage was restored after hours.
Do what best works for your business after adequately analysing your modalities, thereby giving your business another edge other than social media.
Lest I forget, another outage that would cost the world might just be around the corner reading this post with you.