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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Opinion

Facebook shouldn’t have a monopoly on social media


Facebook shouldn't have a monopoly on social media

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

After the recent Facebook outage devastated many people financially, it’s time to regulate how many apps Facebook has control over. 

With last week’s social media outage, many people were forced to realize the hold that apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have on people’s everyday lives.

According to the New York Times, 2.76 billion people use a Facebook product each day. People’s dependency on these apps seems to have progressed quickly in the past two decades.

In this day and age, the internet and social media are no longer just for leisure but for making money.

Across the world, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram are all used to conduct business and online commerce because it’s cheap and easy to use. When the outage happened last week, many people around the world could not keep their shops open and lost a day of business. 

The internet is no longer a choice in people’s lives and it’s evident in how certain countries suffered more than others last week.

Doctors in India were unable to communicate with their teams because they relied on WhatsApp to send information, according to NBC News. In Malaysia, a mother and her son didn’t know how they were going to open up their shop since it was primarily run using WhatsApp. 

While Facebook’s outage was met with annoyance and called a minor inconvenience for Americans, that was not the case for many people around the world. 

In other countries, people rely on these apps to conduct their jobs, businesses, daily conversations and more. Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are the backbones of many people’s incomes so when those apps go down, the users suffer financially.

When the most used social media apps are a trio owned by the same man this creates problems. As of 2019, four of the most downloaded apps are owned by Mark Zuckerberg.

This monopoly on social media apps creates a dangerous dependency that has the potential to create long-term damage to a country’s economy. If a five-hour outage creates panic and economical losses in countries, a day-long or even week-long outage could be disastrous.

A lot of people don’t realize the amount of power that Facebook has. The power manifests itself in the possession of the data of millions of people around the world. With access to all this data, Facebook has control not only over users’ personal information but the power to sway opinions. 

Facebook has already been under fire for pushing politics onto people’s feeds, which prompted Zuckerberg to make a statement. In 2020, he pledged to lower the amount of politics shown on user feeds. 

With that in mind, Facebook and its sibling apps play a larger role in people’s lives than ever before. A few years back, they were labeled as entertainment apps meant to keep you connected with your friends and family. Now, however, these apps are seen in businesses, hospitals and larger institutions. 

In order to prevent an outage like the one last week, there should be regulations placed against Zuckerberg’s monopoly of social media apps. If a large portion of the world didn’t rely on one company for business, the effects of an outage wouldn’t be as extreme. 

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a Journalism freshman who can be reached at [email protected]

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