Tip Sheets

Facebook outage highlights reliance on social media

Media Contact

Abby Butler

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are experiencing a major outage today. 

Brooke Erin Duffy

Professor of Communication

Brooke Erin Duffy, professor of communication, studies the intersection of media, culture and technology. Duffy says that today’s outage brought our reliance on social media platforms into sharp relief.

Duffy says: 

“To stay relevant amid an increasingly saturated marketplace for attention, Facebook has sought to become essential to our social, economic and (most controversially) political lives. Over the past decade, many have grown frustrated with various aspects of the platform; however, the social costs of “opting out” seem too profound to abandon it completely. Today’s outage brought our reliance on Facebook—and its properties like Whatsapp and Instagram—into sharp relief. For so many, scrolling through Instagram or checking out Facebook Marketplace listings provided a brief respite during the pandemic, as work and leisure time melded further together.  

“Many users of Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp may have found today’s outage frustrating; however, there are sprawling categories of workers whose livelihoods depend on the full functioning of these platforms. Social media creators and small business owners, in particular, rely on these platforms to communicate with audiences and advertisers alike. The abruptness of today's outage highlights the staggering level of precarity that structures our increasingly digitally-mediated work economy.”

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