We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


What if Anonymous hackers had taken down Facebook?

Although the Anonymous hacktivists didn't take down Facebook yesterday, we should try and imagine a world without it.

Who’d have thought Eiffel 65’s song ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’ would have been so prophetic?

The group was right about everything, we’re enveloped in the colour. Twitter dictates conversation; Facebook controls our lives.

As much as we moan about Facebook being a medium for stalkers to satisfy their desires, not to mention a day-consuming time warp, millions of people are thankful for it. Facebook is wonderful for keeping up to date with those you care about, for staying in touch with loved ones far and wide. It may be a blue house with a blue window, but half the world enjoys gazing through.

However, there’s an unforgiving difference between usage and addiction. Recreational Facebooking is as normal as a cup of tea in today’s world. A few photos here, a few comments there – maybe even a reunion of some sort. Put the kettle on. Have a pensive browse. Fine. But there are many who allow it to take the wheel rather than just rest in the back seat; to shroud them completely in cold media and fragmented conversation.

How fearful must these souls have been then to hear of internet hacktivist group Anonymous’ reported intentions to ‘take Facebook down’ yesterday? Did it cause offices everywhere to erupt in calamity? Indeed, only last week Facebook was off the radar for a short time in places. It appears that Anonymous wasn’t behind this, but irrespective of involvement it was short-lived and achieved nothing.

It would be wrong for Facebook to be wiped from our earth indefinitely; hundreds of thousands of people would probably go insane. But if it was to go down for a prolonged period, say, a month, it would be the most interesting social experiment since the birth of the internet. It would cause uproar, anguish and probably some exultation, too. It would send the world into panic. How would anybody cope? How would we know how Sandra is getting on in Ecuador? Or whether Nigel’s gig went well?

Anonymous’ initial plans for 5 November apparently also involved giving away Zynga’s games for free. Alex Masters gave firm reasoning enough for its actions to be thwarted: Zynga’s troubles wouldn’t have been cured by further mishap and staff would’ve been at further risk. It was commendable in raising awareness of corporate deviance, but that’s all.

Now though, the Zynga debacle can be cast aside and we can hope that the company learns from the threats and acts with more transparency. The ‘games for free’ plan can be forgotten. Instead, Anonymous might think about carrying out the Facebook outage simply because the group can – for experiment’s sake. Of course, with some sort of measure to ensure employees aren’t financially affected.

Just think how strange it would it be for Facebook to cease to exist for a whole month? For everyone to go cold turkey in the run up to Christmas? It would be a monumental time in history; a showcase of our dependence. Social media experts would be making more infographics than they know what to do with. And yes, Twitter would still be chirping away but everybody knows it’s a completely different ball game. No doubt its usage would increase during a Facebook recession, though thankfully, there’s a clear division between the two. Those loyal to Facebook are a discrepant breed to Tweeters. There’s a crossover for some, but a month isn’t long enough for the loyalists to make the switch. It would still be as test of character for millions.

What’s more, experimentation is a good thing – it helps us to learn and develop as people. There’s nothing wrong with Facebook, but reliance upon it is worrying. School children today don’t know a time before status updates or online events. They have little knowledge of ‘knocking for friends after school to see if they want to come out and play.’ And the addiction reaches high into the older ages.

Forgot the fears of this Anonymous threat being anarchistic and doubting whether it can actually be done – just ponder how surreal and interesting a Facebookless world would be for a time. How spontaneity would be reborn. Why, people may even go outside?