Facebook's Blackout exposes the real problem with Web 2.0 - Could Cirus be the solution?

Facebook's Blackout exposes the real problem with Web 2.0 - Could Cirus be the solution?

On October 4th, the online world seemingly came to a standstill as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram suffered a major outage, leaving little to no access for billions of users for about six hours. This occurrence is not the first of its kind, but it is the largest so far. As these apps represent the collective internet to millions, it was an eerie situation in which many around the world were plunged back to a pre-internet era. 

In just those six hours, the outage had managed to cause global ripple effects, disrupting primary communications for millions and halting the operation of thousands of businesses reliant on its persistent operation. Facebook itself is believed to have lost $100 million in ad platform revenue as a result of the outage, clearly striking a blow to investor confidence and resulting in a 6.3% slump in stock price overnight.

The multi-platform outage revealed a deep-seeded problem of which most internet users were previously unaware: the danger of reliance on totally centralized entities. All it took was one critical error at the top of a centralized hierarchy for a multi-billion dollar infrastructure to be brought to its knees. Countless businesses, influencers and advertisers have built livelihoods on top of centralized systems like Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. When an employee of one of these companies trips on a proverbial (or actual) power cord, this infrastructure disappears, along with all the important user data that it maintains.

Identifying the Root of the Problem

Thankfully the blackout event was short lived, but it was long enough to expose the costly flaws in today’s models of data ownership. Problems created by such flaws are not going away without a broad shift in user behavior, starting with a recognition of the issues at stake:  

- Users do not own their own data. User data is the primary product social media titans like Facebook and Google accumulate, sell and rely on to drive earnings, yet the users have little say in how it is used. As seen with the Cambridge Analytical scandal, sometimes data is even used for nefarious purposes without the user’s consent or knowledge.

- The Platform is the central figure. Corporations will always put profits ahead of the welfare of the user. They are in control of everything related to their platform’s usage, so users can be removed (de-platformed) or de-monetized on a whim, often with little recourse.

 - The platform relies on single points of failure. There is a massive secondary economic infrastructure built on these centralized systems with several potential single points of failure, which is exactly what was behind Facebook’s mishap. Billions of dollars in value every day is riding on the faith that these platforms stay online. 

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