Will we finally see a fall in the influence of social media companies like Facebook?

I believe we are reaching a peak – the latest outage raises an important question about what our limits should be, writes Hamish McRae

Tuesday 05 October 2021 17:06
<p>Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were offline for hours on Monday </p>

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were offline for hours on Monday

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram go down and the world economy collapses. Well no, it doesn’t, but the chaos of those six hours of outage highlights a truth – and poses a question.

The truth is that the world has to build in more resilience into its economic affairs. This is not just about Facebook. It is about a financial and communications infrastructure that is desperately vulnerable to disruption. We have seen this year the trouble caused by overcomplicated supply chains, and insufficiently robust energy provision. We are not though that form of disruption at all yet.

But being unable to have a choice of items in supermarket is nothing to what might happen if, for example, an incident shut down the world’s payments systems for a month. How would you pay for your daily needs if credit and debit cards, and phone apps did not work? Even three years ago we could have gone back to cash and cheques and scrambled through. That option has now gone for many. Multiply that situation globally, and the impact does not bear thinking about.

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