A couple of weeks ago, the Internet was in an uproar as Facebook and its subsidiary apps Instagram and WhatsApp were down for most of the day. While frustrating for most, it became a moment of clarity for all who frequent these platforms. All the while, users began migrating to other social platforms such as Telegram and Twitter to get their news.
Facebook’s outage not only highlights the unhealthy amount of time we spend on these platforms, but why we need a decentralized Internet. And in particular, why we need decentralized social media networks.
So what caused the outage? Apparently, a simple configuration update in their routers led to a massive DNS issue with all Facebook-related URLs. This includes email and internal tools that employees relied on. In addition, recent Covid-19 precautions resulted in a slow response from their security professionals.
The perils of centralization
All of this reveals how much we’ve entrusted centralized tech companies to safe-keep our digital identities and online businesses. While Facebook and Instagram were down, businesses hosted on its platform lost complete visibility from the Internet, possibly leading to setbacks, even if minor. And people who relied on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s messaging tools weren’t able to contact important people for most of the day. It, of course, could’ve been much worse.
On the other hand, Bitcoin has never been down since coming online in 2009. It’s a distributed network reliant on volunteer nodes across the globe. It would take every last node going down for the network to go offline. Any fully decentralized blockchain network can achieve this same feat, meaning that a blockchain-based social network may also be just as robust.
Fortunately, there have been many attempts at decentralized social media platforms. However, most of them are still in their early stages. Over time, as people realize the need for decentralized social media for more reasons than just staying online, funding and brainpower will be poured into these projects.