Thoughts on the Facebook, Instagram Outage from a PR Professional and an online Side-Hustler

A typical day at the office for me would begin with opening my email and opening Facebook. I go directly to our company’s pages and I scan the comments, content and any other data that could have gone unnoticed throughout the night.  (I keep alerts and notifications on my phone 24-7, but you never can be too careful.) 

Around mid-day I check up on the pages feed for both sites.  This means I see what other businesses are doing in relevance to our business.  I take notes, share relevant posts and events and make a plan on things to mention or relate to at a later time.  I also take time to follow new accounts and see who’s currently relevant in the industry.


Randomly throughout the day I schedule content for multiple business pages.  As the content comes to me mentally or physically, I keep a running schedule for the posts to go out.  


All of this is strictly referring to Facebook.  Instagram is another huge faucet of my career, but I’m not even going to go into all of the planning and design around that platform.


I see this to help paint a picture as to what I felt on Wednesday afternoon when I realized Facebook wouldn’t load on any device, any browser, with or without Wi-Fi.  Suddenly I had multiple projects pile up on my to-do list.  I panicked slightly, but assumed everything would be back to normal shortly.


Then I received a nice notification from Planoly, my IG scheduling platform.  It politely told me that IG was down and that effected all the third-party apps as well.  Because IG and FB are owned by the same company, I put the two together and thought that this was going to be a great news headline in the near future.

The notification I received from Planoly, my IG scheduling platform.

The notification I received from Planoly, my IG scheduling platform.


I spent the rest of my day doing other projects, though they were very limited. 


On my way home, I received a text from one of my employers.  She was in a panic.  They had a major power outage across their territory (I work for America’s Rural Electric Coo-ops, btw) and she had tried multiple times to post an update for their members with no success.  I told her of the news and tried again myself but also had no success.


At this moment, I really panicked mentally.  Suddenly I felt like our members during a power outage that lasts for several hours.  How would we go on?  So much functionality for businesses rests in the hands of Facebook and Instagram and at the moment we had neither. 


For small and local businesses like our electric co-ops, the absence of Facebook is the absence of communication with their members. Sure, we have newspapers and radio, but seriously, not many people use these outlets anymore and when they do, the news is already very delayed and outdated.  This poses a very big problem for mom and pops and local shops.


As a side hustler, my entire blogging and coaching platform is internet-based.  I use Facebook and Instagram to gain new followers and spread the reach for my services.  I thought of all the multi-million and billion dollar companies who’s following is based on these platforms and the thought really scared me.  Without FB or IG, we’re all in a world of hurt.


How many countless hours have I spent analyzing FB trends, studying the algorithm, basically preparing for the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Facebook advertising.  Again – I’m not even mentioning Instagram here!!


 The Sitch:

On Wednesday, March 13th, Mashable wrote: “Facebook is in the midst of its biggest outage in recent memory. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have been down for users around the world for at least five hours.”

The article went on to read that other platforms were effected too and the company did not know how long the outage would last.

Meanwhile, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube were storming with comments about the event.  In fact, several memes told the story quite well. . .

 Fortunately, the social media giant was back up and running sometime on the 14th, but many of the features of both platforms were still unavailable and/or glitch.

Why is this a big deal?

When a friend of mine asked me why I was so terrified about the FB/IG/WA outage, I found my blood boiling with passion.  I understand that for the majority of folks, a night without social media is simply a good reason to go for a walk and work on mindfulness meditation to temper the anxiety.  I also understand that in my “neck of the woods”, which is extreme rural Oklahoma, many folks still don’t even utilize this technology – much less build their livelihoods around it.  However, for me and millions upon millions of other folks out there, this was a very big deal.


I explained myself by familiarizing the situation in a way that my friend could understand. 


“Do you know that feeling you get when you’re home in the evening, your wife is cooking supper, the laundry is running and you’re fixing a leak under the sink and then suddenly the electricity goes out?”


Every time a large outage occurs for our cooperative, the phones immediately begin to ring off the hook at our offices.  Our Facebook page explodes with messages and comments and we usually even receive an email or two throughout the duration.


As a co-op employee, we totally understand the inconvenience that overcomes your life during an outage.  It’s not just leisure things like the television, the air conditioner and your blow-dryer, but necessary things too like the refrigerator that keeps your fresh foods fresh and the computer that allows you to do your job.  All of these things are so integrated with our everyday life that we don’t realize how much we depend on electricity.  Of course, it’s not necessary for survival but it is very much so important and relied upon for multiple purposes.


The same thing is true with Facebook and other forms of social media.  It’s not just how we keep in touch with loved ones and find out what our high school friends are doing, but it’s also how companies communicate with their customers and how online entrepreneurs are making a living.  Again, it’s not necessary, but it is a very integral part of our everyday lives in many, many ways.


As a professional who spends several hours a day analyzing, communicating and researching social media practices, it's a bit terrifying to experience a major, long-term outage. Just as an electrical outage is terrifying for most folks. You get so used to depending on these things, you don't realize how much you need them until they’re down. Many livelihoods depend on electricity always being around. Social Media is the same way.

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Haley Hoover

Haley Hoover is a Creative Confidence Coach who works with #creativepreneurs one-on-one to help them get over their fear of sharing great art and ideas so they can transform their lives and inspire others!  

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