How Meta’s outage affected social media businesses in the Caribbean

How Meta’s outage affected social media businesses in the Caribbean

Meta, the tech giant that owns Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, experienced a global outage on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, that disrupted its services for several hours. The outage had a significant impact on many social media businesses in the Caribbean, especially those that rely on Meta’s platforms for communication, marketing, and e-commerce.

The outage started around 3:30 pm GMT and lasted until 5:30 pm GMT, affecting users in different regions and time zones. Many users reported being logged out of their accounts, seeing error messages, or experiencing slow loading times. Some users were able to access the platforms intermittently, while others were completely locked out.

Meta acknowledged the outage on its official X account and apologized for the inconvenience. The company said it was working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and restore service for everyone. Meta did not provide any details on the cause or the extent of the outage, but said it was not related to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which is a common form of cyberattack that overwhelms a website with fake traffic.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg also posted a statement on his personal X account, saying he was sorry for the inconvenience and thanking the users for their patience. He said the outage was one of the worst in the company’s history and that the team was working hard to fix it. He also said the outage was a reminder of how important Meta’s platforms are for connecting people and businesses around the world.

Outage affected regional businesses that depend on social media

The outage had a major impact on many social media businesses in the Caribbean, especially those that only have social media store fronts and do not have other online channels, such as websites, email lists, or push notifications. These businesses lost all communication with their customer base on Tuesday and missed out on potential sales and leads.

Keron Rose, a digital strategist based in Trinidad and Tobago, said that Facebook and Instagram are the two social media platforms that every business in the Caribbean focuses on, and that the outage exposed their vulnerability and dependence on Meta’s services.

“The majority of the Caribbean businesses across the region do not have things like their website, which is their most important digital asset. They don’t have an email list, which is another channel that they can communicate to their subscribers on and they also don’t have things like a push notification list,” he said.

Rose said that businesses should diversify their online presence and use social media as a tool to funnel audiences to their other channels, such as their website, where they can control the user experience and collect data.

Outage highlighted the need for more competition and regulation

The outage was the latest in a series of challenges and controversies that have plagued Meta in recent years, such as data breaches, privacy scandals, antitrust lawsuits, and content moderation issues. The outage also raised questions about Meta’s dominance and reliability in the social media market, as well as the potential risks and impacts of such disruptions on society and the economy.

According to Statista, Meta had over 3.5 billion monthly active users across its platforms as of December 2023, making it the largest social media company in the world. Meta also owns Oculus, a virtual reality company, and Novi, a digital wallet service. Meta’s platforms are widely used for personal, professional, and commercial purposes, such as communication, entertainment, education, marketing, e-commerce, and social activism.

However, Meta’s outage showed how vulnerable and dependent users are on its services, and how a single technical glitch or malicious attack can affect millions of people and businesses. The outage also highlighted the need for more competition and diversity in the social media landscape, as well as more regulation and oversight of Meta and its practices.