In Nigeria, Facebook’s outage shows dangerous dominance

Tomiwa Ibukunle, one Two months ago, a 21-year-old entrepreneur in Lagos, Nigeria started her clothing and accessories business. She uses WhatsApp to advertise her products and process orders from customers, usually receiving 20 orders per day. But on October 5th, when WhatsApp Global decline (Together with other Facebook platforms) Eight hours later, her business took a huge hit. “I just created my brand and I use WhatsApp for Business because it’s easy. But when I can’t access it, I start to worry because I just placed the new items I got in my status and sent some My client,” Ibukunle said. “I ended the day with five orders and want to know where I will start if WhatsApp goes down, because that is where all my customers are.”

Although the Facebook disruption has caused inconvenience to many users in the United States and Europe, in other parts of the world, the company and its platform are completely dominant, and its impact is even more serious. In Nigeria, WhatsApp is the main way to communicate with family members at home and abroad, and it is also used in business activities.Exceed 95% Nigerian 33 million social media users Use platform. It may be convenient to have everyone on the same platform, but the outage suggests that Nigeria’s dependence on apps can be catastrophic-now is the time to find alternatives.

When WhatsApp is gone In Nigeria, panic ensued, with rumors that the service would never return. “I sent a message to my daughter, but it was not delivered. I thought it was a network problem until my nephew told me it was not,” said Nkechinyere Peters who lives in Umuahia. “That’s when I started to worry, because WhatsApp is our main method of communication. What if something happens and she wants to call me? Or do I need help with something important?” What’s worse, Peter Si heard that WhatsApp will be completely deleted. “I believe it,” she said. “Everyone around me believes it. The belief that instant messaging apps will not make a comeback makes many people worry that if the rumors become reality, they are not sure what to do and how they will communicate.

Others whose family members are far from them have the same fear. “My grandma is old and sick,” said Chiamaka Eze, who is from Nigeria but lives in Benin. “As her favorite grandson, she occasionally video calls me when my parents or staff are not around to help her pick drugs. But during the power outage, I couldn’t help her. I was worried that she would take it because she was alone. At home, so I took the wrong medicine.”

An interruption like this will not only interrupt communication, but also put people at risk, because many important services are provided through the platform. For example, WhatsApp provides a 24-hour hotline provided by Mentally Aware Nigeria for people seeking advice or emergency help. last year, bail The magazine reported that more than 10,000 people Talked to MANI Since 2016.

In terms of business, WhatsApp is the platform of choice, surpassing Instagram and Facebook Marketplace. WhatsApp supports business profiles and virtual directories, allowing customers to find information about products or services they are interested in. It is popular with entrepreneurs because customers trust the platform because “when we add them to our state, they see these items in real time. When we communicate in private spaces, there is also a sense of intimacy,” Fashion designer Orji Eke said. However, once the service is interrupted, the advantages provided by WhatsApp for Business become meaningless, and entrepreneurs who rely on it will be harmed.

Atsu Davoh, CEO The founder and founder of BitSika, a payment application that helps people send money across countries, said that a company that controls WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook is a time bomb for those who rely almost entirely on these services. “If we want to consider a practical solution for the future,” he said, “this situation is a good example of decentralization.”

WhatsApp is successful because many people are using it, but there are other options. For people living in Nigeria, alternatives to the WhatsApp messaging app include Telegram or Signal. These apps have privacy features not provided by WhatsApp and have open source APIs. You can also use local applications such as SoftTalk Messenger. SoftTalk provides the service of making international calls directly from the application, and has a shopping function.

The outage indicates that Nigerians need to switch to other applications, but to achieve this, there should be attractive options that meet the customary standards of Nigerians. Investors should provide funding for local applications and untapped applications-such an investment will ensure that other options are available and that communication can still be made next time this happens.

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