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The breakdown of the Facebook empire on Monday had consequences beyond the world of social media. The testimonies of several entrepreneurs contacted by France 24 demonstrate the place that Mark Zuckerberg’s social networks have taken in the economic sphere.
“I realized that without Facebook and WhatsApp, it was like I was unemployed.” Ignace Sampelgo, a graphic designer and photographer from Burkina Faso, was about to send several files to clients via WhatsApp when the services of the social media giant broke out on Monday, October 4.
It was impossible to send the precious documents to the recipients who, in return, did not want to pay for it. “My work depends 95% on these networks, because it is on Facebook and WhatsApp that I can canvass prospects and find customers. It is clear that this incident makes me think about this dependence”, recognizes this young man of Ouagadougou.
A story similar to the many testimonies that African entrepreneurs have left on France 24’s social networks. They point out how the outage that deprived the world of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger for seven hours may have affected the real world.
“Fortunately it only lasted seven hours”
Such a digital blackout is no longer just an opportunity for Twitter addicts to make fun of Facebook addicts. It is also an indicator of the place that the empire built by Mark Zuckerberg has taken in the economic system.
“Fortunately, this only lasted seven hours”, underlines Soizic Boscher, community manager at FlipNpik, a collaborative platform for promoting local merchants, contacted by France 24.
In his case, the blackout couldn’t have come at a worse time. “We were about to launch a recruitment campaign for our ambassadors [qui représentent la marque localement, NDLR] that I had scheduled for 6 pm on Facebook and Instagram, ”says this specialist in social networks.
Everything had to be shifted. But for Soizic Boscher, this is not much compared to what the disappearance, even temporary, of the Facebook ecosystem represents for the craftsmen and small traders present on FlipNpik. “You have to realize that these networks have become the main means for these players to build an image and expand their customer base. If the outage had lasted more than seven hours, it could have had serious economic consequences for them” , assures Soizic Boscher.
The central role played by Facebook as a gateway to connect B2C (“business to consumers”) brands with consumers has already been analyzed in several many economic publications. The incident of October 4 is just a life-size illustration.
“The Facebook ogre with feet of clay”
But companies that do not deal directly with the general public have not been spared. Certainly, in the more austere world of B2B (supplier / customer relationship), the network of choice is rather called LinkedIn. However, “this failure still represents for us a lost working day”, recognizes Yohann Caboni, co-founder of the startup. Koovea, which provides temperature monitoring solutions connected to companies in the health sector (transport of vaccines at low temperature, for example) or food (cold chain).
The reason: when these companies turn to Facebook, they generally do so right at the time of the outage “between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., because it is in the evening, after the working day, that we have the most chances. to reach potential customers “, regrets Yohann Caboni. In addition, “we will have paid campaigns scheduled (for) a certain duration that target potential customers and which also work, especially in the evening,” he adds.
But all is not black in this breakdown, and some took advantage of it. Like the social network for literature lovers Gleeph, who “observed a 20% increase in the number of users in the hour following the start of the Facebook outage and twice as much activity on our network during the incident”, says Khalil Mouna, his founder, contacted by France 24.
He did not expect such a “historic peak”. Usually, a Facebook failure mainly benefits other networks which, like Twitter, “allow you to switch from one stimulus to another, and from a photo of ‘LOLcats’ to a holiday image”, summarizes Khalil Mouna .
This time, his platform, which according to him seeks “to focus on long time and meaningful debates”, also took advantage of this “Facebook” void. This would be proof “that the Facebook ogre has feet of clay”, assures this entrepreneur. Users are quick to find other digital havens as soon as the industry giant is gone.
But one thing that this failure has also made it possible to establish is that, deprived of their digital home port, users have migrated… but not, a priori, in the real world. Mark Zuckerberg has really succeeded in turning his users into “Homo numericus sociabilis”.