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Global social media outage necessitates strengthening of digital infrastructure — expert

By Batool Ghaith - Oct 05,2021 - Last updated at Oct 05,2021

This photo illustration taken on March 22, 2018 shows apps for Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and other social networks on a smartphone in Chennai, India (AFP photo)

AMMAN — Digital transformation needs stronger infrastructure to turn into trusted sustainable digitalisation, according to expert and financial analyst Hosam Ayesh.

 

After the global social media outage that occurred on Monday evening, where Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram stopped working around the world, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost nearly $7 billion in net worth in a few hours, as Facebook's shares dropped around five per cent, according to reports.

Ayesh said that the world is undoubtedly facing a “fast paced cyber-pandemic”, which indicates that companies have not developed technologies capable of dealing with such problems.

“An interruption of the Internet through its various applications affects the economy, trade, communication and various other things. People’s confidence and trust in companies will not be the same after," Ayesh told The Jordan Times on Tuesday over the phone.

He added that the Internet constitutes "the core of economic, technical and commercial activities in the world, and any outages, even for a few minutes, will have negative results.”

Ayesh noted that the world has become completely dependent on the Internet, especially after the pandemic. He stressed that this is not the first time we face a social media outage.

He said that companies, institutions, governments and even individuals were affected all around the world, but luckily Jordan had minimal losses. Jordan was not majorly affected as the outage occurred during the evening, after official business hours, which helped minimise losses, Ayesh added.

“The social media outage led to the disruption of online-based businesses, as there are many companies and small-sized businesses in the Kingdom that rely on social media alone, in addition to the disruption of various activities that were based on Facebook,” Ayesh added.

According to Ayesh, the social media outage is an alarm and a warning message to strengthen the digital infrastructure not only in Jordan but also in countries all around the world.

“The world should invest more in digital infrastructure. What happened indicates that there are limits to artificial intelligence and its uses, as this problem had to be solved manually, therefore, we need a manual alternative which can replace technology in case of such outages in the future,” Ayesh added.

He stressed that Jordan and all countries must not rush towards the electronic revolution and digital transformation. Countries should “reconsider their plans”, he added, as these outages can lead to serious and large losses if they continue for a period longer than a few hours.

“The Internet should not be central in managing various activities, as there must be other forms of decentralised technologies that manage the Internet so that no disruption would cause a significant impact,” he continued.

The seven-hour social media and Internet outage came as a “break” for investors to reconsider their rush in investing in digitalisation and digital companies, Ayesh noted.

“The consequences resulting from the disruption of the Internet would have been dangerous if it continued for a longer period, on the economic, commercial, social, technical and even individual levels,” Ayesh said.

Ayesh highlighted that the Kingdom needs to have a national network that can protect the internal and regional communication in case of any emergencies.

"Getting rid of manual techniques of communication needs to be reviewed and we must remain careful in our complete dependence on the Internet in our lives,” he added.

Economist Wajdi Makhamreh indicated that the social media outage had a “definite economic effect” in the Kingdom.

“Social media is essential in all sectors nowadays.  Some people make a living out of it, such as fashionistas or influencers. They have been affected massively as the outage disrupted their advertisements and their communication with their audience,” he said.

Makhamreh pointed out that there needs to be a backup plan and other applications that people could use in case of another disruption that might occur again.

Rima Haddad, a small-sized online business owner, noted that the outage disrupted many orders and deliveries that were supposed to be delivered.

“We lost connection with our customers, as many people usually place orders during the evenings after they finish their jobs. Therefore, we basically lost a full day of business,” Haddad told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Haddad noted that the customers who normally place orders in the evenings were not able to on Monday because they couldn’t share their locations over WhatsApp.

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