Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

When WhatsApp Was Down, It Halted the Worlds of Many

Amy Cheng, Washington Post:

WhatsApp has emerged as a popular alternative to text messages, especially in developing nations where telecommunications services can be prohibitively expensive. But it is more than just a messaging platform: In Lebanon, for instance, coronavirus tests can be ordered — and results received — via WhatsApp. A Philippine diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates operates a WhatsApp hotline to communicate with its citizens in that country. And users in Brazil can use an in-app business directory to search for thousands of food and retail providers.

I am not sure the people snarking yesterday about Facebook’s outage fully recognize how deeply integrated WhatsApp is in the day-to-day commerce of so many countries. We can argue about the wisdom of dependency on single points of failure, but the lack of any warranty or guarantee on the infrastructure we use every day seems similarly flawed.