Vittoria Elliott, Rest of World:
Facebook’s products are more than just a social network for hundreds of millions of people globally. Beyond being communication tools, the company’s platforms are e-commerce resources, storefronts, and health and emergency aids. In some regions, Facebook is the internet. Seven users from around the world described the impact of the seven-hour shortage to Rest of World, and a user from Nigeria said, “It’s painful.”
Facebook’s reach and dominance in much of the world is largely by design. As part of its strategy for exponential growth, the company has made internet access in the Global South — through the use of Facebook products — a priority.
It is easy to criticize a dependence on Facebook’s products from the perspective of someone who sees them as lightweight social apps, interchangeable with many others. But many of these regions engrained WhatsApp into their commerce systems before it was acquired by Facebook, and found the company digging deeper as it scored preferential treatment by local providers for its Basics product.