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What If... Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Never Came Back?

We ponder the question.
by Pia Regalado
Oct 5, 2021
Photo/s: Marvel

(Minor Squid Game and What If... spoilers ahead)

Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were Thanos-snapped (or Blipped, if you ask Spider-Man's classmates) globally for about seven hours, forcing netizens to sleep early or panicking at work, depending on which side of the planet they were on.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the disruption, acknowleding how billions of people rely on the biggest social media platform to "stay connected." Downdetector called it the "largest outage" with over 10.6 million reports.

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If we were in the Marvel universe, the Watcher surely saw what happened. He won't interfere though (or will he?)

Here are some potential scenarios in a multiverse where Zuckerberg's apps fade into oblivion.

Twitter rules the world

Everyone took to Twitter to ask "Is #FacebookDown?" and Twitter noticed. It's three-word tweet "hello literally everyone" greeting those who jumped ship earned 2.8 million tweets in seven hours, or while Facebook was out.

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Memes flooded Twitter following the outage, with Netflix posting a screenshot from episode 1 of its global hit series Squid Game where Ali (Player 199) saved Gi-hun (Player 456) from falling after tripping in "Red Light, Green Light." Twitter is Ali, according to Netflix.

Twitter chimed in with its own Squid Game reference.

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Enjoy these other memes roasting Facebook while it was gone:

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How do I IDD again?

It's radio (or WhatsApp or Messenger) silence from relatives, especially from those overseas, who regularly communicate via Facebook apps. Before the apps, there was IDD or international direct dial.

"Sa mga relatives kong kagigising lang na walang malay na nagloko ang Facebook, Instagram, messenger at WhatsApp, good morning sa inyo! Buti ngayon lang kayo nagising," a Filipina Twitter user said.

"Couldn't Facebook just stay gone? The only reason I have it anymore is just so my relatives know that I'm not dead. Wouldn't be too much of a loss," another netizen said.

"My relative called me today to let me know their 'internet is broken'. Facebook and Whatsapp is 100% of the internet to my older relatives," another said.

"I really wanted Facebook to die but I also didn't want my older relatives on twitter so safe to say I'm relieved everything's back to the status quo for now," said another.

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Some netizens from across the globe realized they don't have their relatives' contact numbers as they regularly communicate via Facebook apps.

Take that, 'fake news' and trolls

Facebook, with about 2.74 billion monthly active users, is accused of providing a megaphone for dangerous misinformation where "fake news" on COVID-19, elections, and other topics thrive.

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Whistleblower France Haugen, a data scientist from Iowa who worked with Facebook, detailed how Facebook "chooses profit over safety."

"The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world," she said in an interview with CBS news show "60 minutes."

While Facebook said it takes steps to reduce the spread of "fake news" on its platforms, it treads lightly on the "fine line between false news and satire or opinion," according to its community standards.

In 2020, Facebook took down a network of fake accounts with "coordinated inauthentic behavior" from China aimed at influencing politics in the Philippines and the U.S.

Some of the accounts were linked to Filipino security forces, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to call out Facebook on its decision. Misinformation about the "golden age" of the Marcoses also persist on Facebook platforms, including Twitter.

READ: Those Marcos Videos on TikTok are Rooted in Decades of Misinformation

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I like what I see on the mirror

Body image issues are fueled by toxic content on Facebook and its image-sharing platform Instagram, according to research released by advocacy group SumOfUs.

Key findings based on 720 Instagram posts showed that at least 22 hashtags used on Instagram promote eating disorders, which could lead to over 45 million eating disorder-related posts.

Out of the plastic surgery posts analyzed in the research, 86.7% of those promoted plastic surgery procedures or clinics, while 81.3% of skin whitening posts analyzed promoted skin whitening products, of which 83.1% were unapproved by relevant government regulatory authorities in countries where the posts were shown.

"The platform tracks and targets some of the most vulnerable in society -- young teens and people of color -- with content that heavily promotes unrealistic and unattainable Western beauty standards, and offers false solutions like plastic surgery, skin whitening, and extreme dieting to trigger body image issues and lower self-esteem," said SumOfUs.

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Haugen also shared documents with U.S. lawmakers and The Wall Street Journal that detailed how Facebook knew its products, including Instagram, were harming young girls, especially around body image.


The Pandemic Changed Our Bodies and That's Okay

You Deserve to Eat: Gen Z Nutritionist is Changing Toxic Diet Culture

Finally, Nirvana

Facebook is also host to malicious tagging malwares, with the latest one using lewd photos as bait. Don't click on them.

Tagged in a Porn Post on Facebook? Here's What You Need to Do

Think Like a Scammer to Outsmart a COVID-19 Scammer

Were you one of those who saw the massive outage as an excuse to sleep longer, or at least stop mindless scrolling on Facebook? If yes, congratulations.

One of the bleakest trends during the COVID-19 pandemic is doomscrolling, where netizens fall into the rabbit hole of terrible news of hospitalizations and deaths.

Anxiety brought about by doomscrolling can impact your sleep, according to Cleveland Clinic. Too much time online exposed to news both good and bad is also linked to feelings of depression and can leave you feeling drained.

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And some real WFH

Some netizens joked that when Facebook is down, productivity goes up.

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While Facebook is helpful for business and telecommunication in the time of COVID-19, it also reinforces procrastination and it's a growing concern especially among young people, this 2016 study showed.

While we've all been productive someplace else while Facebook and its other apps were down, we'd like to know: is Facebook doomscrolling more preferable than online shopping?

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-- with report from Agence France Presse

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