Facebook should not monopolize social media

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During the Facebook shutdown, the @cbuprssa social media team and I were unable to promote our event for the night of Oct. 4. It opened my eyes to how much we rely on social media as a means for communication and a method to share information, even for something as small as promoting an event.

The social media manager and I were refreshing our accounts constantly to see if we could finally post. 

It felt like a miracle once Facebook was back up and we were able to post again, showing our reliance and excitement around something as simple as posting a photo.

The five hours spent when Facebook went dark on Oct. 4 were a nice break from social media for some. However, for other users, it meant lost revenue and a lack of communication.

The outage also affected Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. These apps are more than just social media. They provide access to communication and act as a business platform for more than 2.8 billion users all over the world.

“Brazil and Mexico have the highest dependency on Facebook in the world with 95% and 98% of social network users respectively having an account – among a highly addicted Latin America where 85% of all internet users have an account and depend on its services, compared with just over 50% of internet users across western Europe,” according to the Guardian.

In just five hours, Facebook lost an estimated $65 million. This calculation was made by Forbes based on the estimation that Facebook’s advertising revenue is roughly $13 million per hour. 

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, lost an estimated $6 billion in those five hours as stocks plummeted.

The shutdown also affected Facebook’s internal communications as employees of the media giant were shut out of Facebook just like the rest of us. Facebook has since publicly stated the shutdown was a result of an internal update gone wrong.

Facebook’s efforts to control the social media market are backfiring as consumers face the effects of the Oct. 4 shutdown. 

One company having power over multiple essential applications not only means it can help people, but also that it can hurt people by making changes that negatively affect its users. The outage has shown the over-reliance many countries have on Facebook and its applications and has caused many people to demand Facebook break up its social media monopoly.

In August, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook asking it to sell Instagram and WhatsApp to break up the monopoly it holds on the social media market. 

The FTC argues that Facebook’s monopoly in the market has made it difficult for other social media companies to compete.

“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James at a press conference announcing the action on Dec. 9, 2020. “By using its vast troves of data and money, Facebook has squashed or hindered what the company perceived as potential threats.”

The lawsuit calls on Facebook to end its allegedly illegal behavior and divide up its major assets, Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Furthermore, the attorney general requested approval from Facebook for a $10 million acquisition with the goal in mind to restore competition in the social media market.

Along with the FTC lawsuit, Facebook’s users are now seeing the importance of breaking up the monopoly after the looming effects of the shutdown. 

Even more so, the shutdown showed how much we rely on social media. While it is a means for communication and a method to share information, it has also become a medium that we have become dependent on for fulfillment. This is not sustainable longterm, especially if Facebook shutdowns occur again.

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