When Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp remained in the dark for more than six hours, it left billions of its users without a major form of communication and severely disrupted their online lives.
Facebook and its apps, all owned by the social media giant of Mark Zuckerberg, stopped working at around 11.40 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, and started coming back after 6 p.m.
Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan, professor in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, is an expert in technology, politics, and the relationships between companies.
During the time when Facebook was down, he told Granthshala How users of the platform should view the company, which is still worth nearly $1 trillion, despite the drop in share price due to the prolonged outage.
Was this outage a welcome break from an increasingly “toxic” social media platform?
“There has been controversy after controversy concerning Facebook, because Facebook has, quite frankly, never really shown in good faith that it is interested in the governance of its platform by specific types of communities and stakeholders around the world. who are most affected by it.
“So for Facebook and Instagram to be closed for a while, people will be celebrating because they are so tired of Facebook’s irresponsible business practices while it continues to become a company worth over a trillion dollars.
“But at the end of the day, it looks like Facebook as a company and Facebook as a platform are here to stay. Because they have almost 3 billion users around the world – far more than any other social media platform .
“They own Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which have a huge user base in their own right.
“So the real question is not about Facebook having the platform down for some temporary period of time, but how Facebook, the company, should be accountable to the wider public that is constantly monetizing, surveying and manipulating it.
“How do we motivate Facebook to recognize that they can continue a thriving business without being completely socially irresponsible?
“We know that Facebook’s algorithm that privileges sensation and abusive, because it’s tried and true, activates our sympathetic nervous system and gets us into a fight-or-flight type of response.
“And you know, it’s a tried-and-true model. We’ve known this for decades. So Facebook knows it.
“They’re not really willing to do much about it, if anything, sure, they’re open to some sort of low-level regulation, but they’re not interested in intervening based on their toxic business model.” which is an algorithm in itself.”
Was the outage an argument for why these huge platforms should not be owned by a single company?
“Facebook’s ownership of WhatsApp and Instagram allows it to operate on multiple platforms that would otherwise compete with each other, notably Instagram.
“Instagram, in a sense, allows Facebook to fill in its gaps, as Instagram works with young people. And Facebook is dominant among older people as a platform right now.
“And in many countries of the world, people don’t even use their local cell phone providers, they use WhatsApp, it has become this telephone system in many countries around the world.
“It’s also important to note that the vast majority of Facebook, the company’s users, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s through the Facebook platform or WhatsApp, are not in Europe or the United States or the global north, so to speak. They African continents, South America, Latin America and of course Asia and South Asia.”
What does this outage tell us about society’s addiction to social media?
“I’ve asked my students in the first week of class at UCLA, take what I call a digital detox, to stay 12 hours away from any use of digital technology, whether it’s social media, email, or whatever.
“We are addicted to digital, because our lives – our social lives, our economic lives, our political lives, sadly our personal lives too – are mediated by these digital technologies.
“We need to recognize that we have a certain kind of tendency to seek connection and intimacy and vulnerability and everything in our lives.
“The endgame here has to be for some sort of real kind of rules. I don’t think Facebook will be easy to break.
“But I think maybe there’s another model we can consider, which is regulating Facebook like a public utility, that might be easier to implement at the moment.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /