In a brief chaotic moment when Facebook went offline this week, the world got a glimpse of what the internet could be like without the world’s largest social media company.
Some of the most important corners of the internet went extinct for 6 billion users when Facebook and its suite of apps, which include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, crashed for about six hours on October 4.
The Facebook outage was particularly disruptive in countries like India, where the company is virtually synonymous with the Internet. WhatsApp is the primary tool used by many businesses to communicate with their customers and families use to stay in touch with loved ones.
Internet users downloaded alternative messaging apps
Messaging was one of the most pressing needs people searched for alternatives, according to data from app analytics company SensorTower. On the day that Messenger and WhatsApp went down, downloads of rival messaging apps like Signal, Viber, and Telegram skyrocketed.
Although Telegram had the largest user base before the outage, the encrypted messaging service Signal saw the largest percentage increase in its regular daily downloads. Global Signal’s downloads increased 12-fold to 881,000 on October 4, compared to 67,000 on Monday, September 27 previous.
Twitter figures including company CEO Jack Dorsey took advantage of the outage to encourage people to download Signal. The app boosters are often quick to take advantage of moments like this; Signal fans also encouraged their subscribers to download the app amid concerns over state surveillance during the 2020 protests against police brutality in the United States and anti-government protests in Cuba earlier this year.
Snapchat was the biggest winner in social media
Internet users have also been forced to change their diet on social networks. Although Twitter was inundated with jokes that everyone on earth had just logged into the platform, it was actually not the biggest beneficiary of the Facebook outage (at least among mobile users). ).
Snapchat saw a much larger increase in time spent on the app compared to September 27.
SensorTower has yet to release download figures since Oct. 4, but the top free app rankings on the U.S. App Store offer an imprecise glimpse into how rival apps have performed since the Facebook crash. Signal and Viber, who previously did not appear in the rankings, reached 68th and 130th places respectively, but have since slipped again. Telegram appears to have maintained its momentum. The encrypted messaging app improved its ranking from 56th to 19th on October 4. At the time of publication, it ranked 9th.