Tag Archives: Twitter

No AdBlock isn’t broken it’s Amnesty’s World Day Against Cyber Censorship

World Day Against Cyber Censorship

12 March is World Day Against Cyber Censorship, first designated in 2008 at the request of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières/RSF) and Amnesty International. Like World Press Freedom Day (3 May) it concentrates on restriction of Internet access issues and online freedom of expression. It’s purpose is to:

RSF Stop Cyber Censorship - World Day Against Cyber Censorship
RSF Stop Cyber Censorship

“rally everyone in support of a single Internet that is unrestricted and accessible to all. It is also meant to draw attention to the fact that, by creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet is a force for freedom. However, more and more governments have realised this and are reacting by trying to control the Internet.” – Reporters Without Borders

The event logo, designed by Reporters Without Borders is a computer mouse freeing itself from its chains, symbolising the defence of free expression online.

Freedom of Expression Index 2015-2016

Last year say saw 64 journalists killed carrying out their jobs, along with 6 media assistants. A further 19 netizens and citizen journalists were killed.  In the first 10 weeks of 2016 another 11 journalists have been killed and over 300 journalists and citizen campaigners have been imprisoned for defending freedom of speech.

Freedom of the Press around the World 2015 RSF
Freedom of the Press around the World 2015, RSF

The United Kingdom has fallen from 19th to 34th on the RSF press freedom index since 2010.

Turkey’s censorship & state media interference

RSF World Press Freedom Index 2015 Turkey
RSF World Press Freedom Index 2015 Turkey

EU member hopeful, Turkey, ranks in the 150s out of 180 nations, and on 4 March the state forcibly took over the critical newspaper, Zaman. A decade ago it ranked at #98. “Turkey’s “underlying situation” score – covering such areas as cyber-censorship, lawsuits, dismissals of critical journalists and gag orders – actually worsened, showing that freedom of information continues to decline.”[UPDATE – the day after

“Turkey’s “underlying situation” score – covering such areas as cyber-censorship, lawsuits, dismissals of critical journalists and gag orders – actually worsened, showing that freedom of information continues to decline.” – RSF World Press Freedom Index

[UPDATE – the day after World Day Against Cyber Censorship a bomb exploded in the capital city Ankara killing at least 37 and injuring over a 100. Turkey’s state response included a broadcast ban by its broadcasting agency, RTÜK and then a court banned Twitter and Facebook after blast scene images were shared online. This despite Facebook instituting its “marked safe” check-in procedure for its users there.]

AdBlock call for the Internet to be Unblocked

Computer Privacy Quote, Amnesty
Computer Privacy Quote, Amnesty International

Only for today, AdBlock is “un-blocking” some ad banners – just those from Amnesty about online censorship and freedom of speech. AdBlock’s CEO points to RSF’s “Enemies of the Internet” list as justification for this wake-up call:

“On their current list of ‘Enemies of the Internet’, Reporters Without Borders include China, the United States, North Korea, the United Kingdom, and many others.” – Gabriel CubbageAdBlock CEO

“Blocking ads is both easy and ethical”, says Gubbage, but blocking the Internet is not.

Saudi Arabia Internet Content Blocking

Freedom of Speech Quote, Ai Wei Wei, Amnesty
Freedom of Speech Quote, Ai Wei Wei, Amnesty

Raif Badawi is one of many in Saudi Arabia, e.g., Waleed Abu Al-Khair and Tariq al-Mubarak, to have fallen foul of one of the world’s leaders in Internet content blocking. Strict web filtering is in place to block content deemed pornographic, or “morally reprehensible” – the latter has come to include religious apostasy, state criticism, or discussion of human rights issues and abuses.

United Kingdom Surveillance

Being Watched Quote, Edward Snowden, Amnesty
Edward Snowden on “being watched”, Amnesty International

Even the United Kingdom is a current “enemy of the Internet”. Why the UK? For our unprecedented CCTV, cyber and telecommunications surveillance, in some areas second only to China and in others worse than the US, according to Edward Snowden. This stems from a confusion that journalism equates with terrorism, or its risk, as the Guardian knows only too well.

“GCHQ thus gathers an unprecedented quantity of information”. – RSF

Meantime, in the USA, the FBI have ordered Apple to create unblocking software to release the contents of a killer’s iPhone to them, a move resisted by Apple with the backing of Facebook, GoogleMicrosoft and the United Nations!

RSF Cyber-Freedom/Netizen Prize

Since 1992, Reporters Without Borders, along with more recently TV5 Monde have offered a journalistic freedom Prize to reporters and online activists around the world. 2003 saw RSF give a first cyber freedom award to imprisoned Tunisian cyber-dissident Zouhair Yahyaoui. Since 2010, RSF has been awarding a Netizen Prize to the cybercitizen online activist, blogger, or journalist, who has most fought for freedom of expression and reporing on the Internet.

2010 – Awarded to the Iranian women’s rights activists, including co-founder Parvin Ardalan, of the Change for Equality website, www.we-change.org
2011 -Awarded to the founders of a Tunisian blogging group named Nawaat.org.
2012 -Awarded to Syrian citizen journalists and activists of the Media center of the Local Coordination Committees.
2013 – Awarded to Vietnamese blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh.
2014 – Awarded to Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi.

Countless other thousands of journalists and activists, and millions of netizens, deserve a free and unfettered Internet. We must learn to police ourselves, rather than be censored by others. For who decides when a state is right or wrong if the freedom to even discuss or criticise that state is removed from us?

RSF World Press Freedom Index 2015 Worst placed countries
RSF World Press Freedom Index 2015 Worst placed countries

January Blues? National Hug Day may offer an Oxytocin rich cuddling cure

National Hug Day combats January Blues

National Hug Day was an idea put forward by one Kevin Zaborney in 1986. Whilst January 21 was not overly significant it fell halfway between New Year’s and Valentines. Zaborney thought US society was “embarrassed to show feelings in public” and hoped a National Hugging Day would help change that, but actually didn’t hold out much hope that it would catch on. Well it did, and nearly 20 years on, folk are still hugging. (If you want more cuddling cats then read to the end!)

Free Hugs Campaign

Across several continents, during public demonstrations or random acts of kindness, one can often witness people offering “FREE HUGS”. A phenomenon that began in Australia around ten years ago and has since taken off everywhere.

Over 77 million people have watched this “Free Hugs” video:

I’ve participated in Free Hug events, even a public mixed-sex kiss-in to challenge public perceptions of same-sex displays of affection and homophobia. I’ve also done cuddle workshops, had cuddle buddies, and queued for hours to hug with Amma, the 34-million-people-hugged queen of hugging. Amma, or Mata Amritanandamayi, says her only religion is love. Hate and war aren’t working, so perhaps we need a revival of 1960s-70s peace and love.

Monkey hugs - National Hug Day
Monkey hugs – why so glum?

As an atypically unreserved Brit, I can safely say that most of us consider our American cousins overly huggy, not me I can’t get enough of them – giving or receiving. That said, research has also shown that many European nations, such as the French or Spanish, spend even more time hugging or kissing.

In the midst of the Ferguson riots and response to the Michael Brown shooting one good news story emerged at a Portland demo, that of a kid offering hugs, even to a policeman. Devonte Hart was photographed hugging Sergeant Brett Barnum. According to the original Oregonian article, Hart was holding a “free hugs” sign. Barnum called him over and they talked about the demonstration, school, life and art. Afterwards, Barnum pointed at his sign and asked: “Do I get one of those?”

Commercial Cuddles by the hour

One woman in America has seen her cuddle-by-the-hour at $60 a time therapy business take-off with 10,000 enquiries in the first week! The www.CuddleUpToMe.com site, aka Samantha Hess, offers safeguards and various non-sexual options. She describes herself as a “professional cuddler” and offers to be the “big spoon or the little spoon”, although she is a petite 5ft tall, height is barely relevant when lying down.

Even in the usually reserved and private UK there are cuddle meetups, parties, and workshops, to be found.  Bastion of poking fun, The Daily Mail actually has a healthy write up about one. Anna Shekory of Cuddle Workshop and Tom Fortes Mayer of FreeMind are involved in the UK workshops and meetups.

“Cuddle Workshop is not affiliated with Cuddle Parties in the USA. We are similar yet different from Cuddle Party. Like them, we offer a safe boundaried space to explore nurturing non-sexual touch.”

Oxytocin the oxygen of happiness

Call it human comfort, closeness, community, or what you will but one chemical name it goes by is Oxytocin, the cuddle compound, hug hormone, and slightly more doubtfully, the moral molecule.

Oxytocin is my drug of choice. Oxytocin is a very potent and powerful hormone. When we hug, kiss, or share closer intimacies our oxytocin levels shoot up. Half-a-minute’s hugs can raise oxytocin levels and maintain them throughout the day. Hugs have been shown to act an as anti-inflammatory healer, pain relief, mood relief, counter stress and anxiety, increase generosity, trust, ease PTSD, aid social bonding in autism, relieve heart pressure and more!

More oxytocin means less stress, mental and cardiovascular, and an improved immune system. According to Dr Zak, author of “The Moral Molecule“, even hugging strangers releases the oxytocin sense of wellbeing, so long as the hug is permitted and welcomed, I would hasten to add, nor an excuse for a fondle or grope.

Neuroeconomist Zak, or “Dr Love”, calls oxytocin our “social glue” and according to one interviewer has all the appearance of “having been constructed in a laboratory charged with creating the ideal deliverer of TED talks”.

Zak encouraged skeptical New Yorkers at an event called Love Night to embrace each other, “If it works on 500 random New Yorkers, it’ll work for you,” Zak says.

TV and Social Media can be good for you

Feelgood movies can lead to a 47% surge in oxytocin levels. Television can actually be good for you! Especially, if watched whilst cuddled up in bed or on the sofa with another warm human being.

Even Facebook is good for you, or can be when used for positive social interactions in the absence of face-to-face possibilities.

“Social media is often heralded as the end to meaningful interaction” but science can demonstrate a different story. “While studying people’s oxytocin levels after using Facebook and Twitter, Dr. Zak saw oxytocin release in every participant…Though in-person interactions are much richer, he says, there’s room for the Internet.” Commenting on a Twitter experiment, Zak says:

“Your brain interpreted tweeting as if you were directly interacting with people you cared about or had empathy for, E-connection is processed in the brain like an in-person connection.”

It is also showing up as a drug to aid against obesity, act an as anti-inflammatory healer, pain relief, mood relief, counter stress, increase generosity, trust, and more. Indeed, “oxytocin is proving to be a crucial ingredient to what makes us human”.

Studies are showing that it may be effective in treating debilitating shyness, or to help people with social anxieties and mood disorders. It’s also thought that oxytocin could help people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. In addition, given that autism is essentially a social communication disorder, it’s being considered as a way of helping people on the spectrum as well. And lastly, oxytocin, through its trust-building actions, can help heal the wounds of a damaged relationship — another example of how the mind gets its plasticity.”

The realists and skeptics out there may need to read something more balancing, such as this piece by Ed Yong who kicks oxytocin and Dr Zak back into touch. Further pointing out that for some the benefits may only enhance your pre-existing mindset. One study showed that oxytocin actually caused less trust and cooperation among people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Amanda Palmer in the Guardian writes that if she “were queen for a day, cuddles would be mandatory. I would counter the epidemic of human encounterlessness with cuddle centres for those who never get a proper hug.”

If you are one of the 7-8 million single people or third of the UK that will be living alone as we age, then if the encounter with a cuddle party, meetup or professional cuddler, is just way beyond your British reserve or shyness, what can you do?

If cuddling is out of bounds, try petting

Cat cuddles
Cat cuddles

Clinical psychologist Dr Glenn ­Wilson suggests that “getting a kitten and petting it might have a similar soporific, calming effect.”

That may explain the equal rise of cat cafes and the opportunity to go and cuddle a kitty, or some other furry, if you live alone in rented accommodation that bans pets. People with pets apparently recover faster from illness and find their stress levels reduced. It may also be easier to maintain one’s boundaries with a cat!

Hugs on prescription?

Okay so they may not bring about world peace just yet but they can comfort or console what they can’t cure! So have a hug or pet a cat on me today!

Nigeria #365DaysOn #BringBackOurGirls from Boko Haram in Africa, no closer

Bring Back Our Girls, Not Forgotten

One year on from the 200+ Chibok girls capture by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the #BringBackOurGirls viral social media campaign, and there is still no news. Today, organisations and individuals around the world are trying to keep the media and political interest, as well as the girls, alive. The value of African lives and lack of international interest, alongside diplomatic and United Nations powerlessness, still means it is up to media and public channels to keep their fate an important issue.

365 Days On, Trending Hashtag

To keep the awareness current, a new hashtag campaign , alongside the old, has emerged to mark the lack of progress #365DaysOn.

The inaction has led to complaints about Hashtag diplomacy and foreign policy with some  questioning whether Twitter or petitions can achieve anything at all? In terms of Human Rights campaigns it has made a difference in seeing various international violations of freedom or fair trials, both acknowledged, and sometimes ended:

Nigeria’s Elections

The situation has contributed to the ousting of Goodluck Jonathan as President and the new incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, whilst saying that he would “do everything in its power to bring them home”, suggested that he could offer no promises and people shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Boko Haram brazenly added to the subdued expectations by saying that the girls had all [been] “converted to Islam” and “married off”.

Boko Haram still seem untouchable

Amnesty International have said that the Boko Haram militants have abducted 2,000 girls and young women in the last 15 months, forcing them to be cooks, sex slaves, wives, and fighters.

Nigeria, whilst on target to become Africa’s richest and fastest growing nation is also one of its most complex, and one were western influence is minimal. Indeed, Boko Haram’s very name means “Western education is forbidden”.

Islamic State (IS)

Map Africa Regions Countries WikiMediaWith Boko Haram and Al Shabab allying themselves with Islamic State it means that North Africa from Algeria to Sinai and Nigeria to Sudan, is under threat of extremist conquest and a massive increase in further human rights violations. Consolidation under a broad IS umbrella in Niger and Libya could see an extremist Islamist caliphate more a reality than a threat.

Ongoing battle & the Value of African Lives

Abuja Nigeria Bring Back Our Girls via Twitter purefoyAMEBO
Abuja Nigeria Bring Back Our Girls via Twitter @purefoyAMEBO

Whilst IS and Boko Haram use the Quran as justification, Muslim leaders around the world also condemn their actions from the same texts. This remains, therefore, extremist ideology parading itself as religious purity or geographic gain. Bring Back Our Girls remains the rallying cry, but all African human rights issues and news stories need to be given similar prominence and awareness. African lives, when hundreds – if not thousands, die or go missing, should not be consigned to small-print inside page news, but be given the weight and international importance it needs.

How we live; How we engage – Conscious Living & Communication

Authentic Living & Conscious Communication

It is how we live, not when we will die, that we should be concerned about. How we argue, more than whether we always have to agree. Both death and disagreement should bring reflection, not regret.

Quality, not quantity of life

Agree to disagree, communicate don't excommunicate
Conscious communication rather than contentious conflict

“It is the quality of how we live, in whatever circumstances and trials, not the quantity of our life, by which we should be measured. How we have grown, not what we have known. Not our faults and failures but how we learned from them and how many times we got back up again. Not our principles and judgements but how we stopped judging and sought justice. A little more reflection rather than reaction, in this world, would not go amiss. An attitude of gratitude, of making the best of it, not having the most of it. In disputes and discussions, of engaging not enraging, debate not hate, communicate don’t excommunicate, discussion not repercussion, of agreeing to disagree rather than the binary opposition of assuming your being right makes everyone else wrong rather than just being of a different mind.” – http://www.katyquot.es

TERFgate or Freedom of Speech?

Professor Mary Beard twitter
Professor Mary Beard via twitter

This is something which Professor Mary Beard has tweeted about this weekend, in the wake of verbally violent disagreement over free speech and debates between some more radical feminists and aggrieved trans:

That heated debate, still going on – and which left Beard crying and even Peter Tatchell bruised, has resulted in both trans and feminists disagreeing as much amongst themselves as between opposing beliefs. Although it is hard not to disagree with many of the despicable ‘outing’ actions of Cathy ‘Bug’ Brennan, but even she has recently posted on agreeing to disagree.

Oliver Sacks, on how to live and (not) die

In the New York Times, renowned author and neurologist Oliver Sacks has reflected profoundly on his life and approaching death from terminal cancer:

Oliver Sacks by Luigi Novi 2009 wiki
Oliver Sacks by Luigi Novi 2009

“It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can… I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions…

I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well)… I feel the future is in good hands…

My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Oliver Sacks six vintage book titles new covers
Oliver Sacks six vintage book titles new covers

We are indeed unique – only we can live our lives and ours alone, to the full.

Oliver Sacks is the author of Awakenings, The Island of the Colour-blind, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

This post began life over on Bubblews as “It is how we live not when we will die that we should be concerned about “.


National Cat Day – A Day of Mourning for a Sad Mad Cat Lady

Tabby at a year old
Tabby at a year old

Today is National Cat Day, presumably a day for their owners – although we all know that dogs have owners, and cat lovers are owned by their feline masters. Because of course every day is National Cat Day if you are a cat. And there are some 500 million of them around!

It began in 2005 by an animal welfare and rescue advocate Colleen Paige, in the USA, and is an American National Cat Day. An International Cat Day on 8 August has existed since 2002.

Social Media and Cats

Cats are what the Internet was designed for, it seems, certainly on many social media sharing platforms at least where whether angry, grumpy, philosophical or just funny, they are more popular than dogs, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and bacon, accounting for more than 30m monthly searches, quite apart from the shares! Today though, cats are rightly trending on twitter under #nationalcatday.

Utopia and Cats

Kitten cuteness
Kitten cuteness

In Geoffrey Household’s The Cats to Come – most famously the author of Rogue Male also featuring a cat, a future furry utopia is imagined, for the cats at least, where they rule and are carried about by their human servants!

My utopia of mad cat lady cat trusteeship, for we are not owners, was dealt a heavy blow yesterday when our petite, precocious, and precious tabby cat, eponymously called Tabby, died on the vet’s operating table after some hidden trauma had caused blood to fill up around the lungs. $1500 later, she could not be saved and now rests in my garden below some freshly planted perennial flowers that will appear each year and remind me of her. She was not even 18 months old yet.

A small cat in a rather large wine glass
A small cat in a rather large wine glass

She was half the size of her two brothers, yet otherwise healthy. She loved getting into small spaces, whether a DL envelope, large wineglass, dressing gown pocket, hoodie hood, or my forearm curled around her.

Each morning she would run up to me and climb my chest and ask for croissant! She was my “Croissant Terrier”. Yes I encouraged it because she was so cute and never demanding, just pleased to be privileged. She was a princess without being spoilt and a queen who knew her position – generally on top of other cats twice her size whom she used as pillows, foot rests or royal seats!

Tabby wall of remembrance 12.5.13-29.10.14
Tabby wall of remembrance 12.5.13-29.10.14

She took up so little space, yet leaves a massive hole. She was a majestic moggy much loved. The other dozen cats will have to fill her space, but none can replace her memory nor large personality. Many tears have and will go on being shed for her passing. As I write this the smallest tortoiseshell runt of a later litter, called Biscuit, has settled on my lap in my writing study, warming my thighs and my distracting me from my grief.

Tabby’s photographic wall of remembrance can be seen in this public facebook album. She provided such joy in such a short length of time and amassed hundreds of photos in just months. I’ve always had a tabby, now I am without one, thought I have a dozen others from black to mixed, ginger to tortoiseshell and even a torbie – a tortieshell and tabbie mix.

An earlier version of this post was published on Bubblews.

More articles on cats

On coffee and cats
On cats and language learning
On crowdfunded cat cafes
Why kids and kitties prefer boxes
On cats, comfort, writers and their feline muses



Google goes gay, Twitter flags up rainbows, Search terms for LGBT Pride

This year’s “Google goes gay” search style for Pride Month and the Stonewall Inn riots anniversary was a tessellated rainbow background strip to their website menu bar. This is the 7th year running Google has demonstrated its diversity and made the none too subtle statement of support worldwide.

Google rainbow search terms Pride Month 2014

Enter terms like “Gay Pride”, “Stonewall riots”, “Pride month”, “London Pride”, “Same-sex marriage” and the strip would visibly transform before your eyes and produce tens of millions of results. Curiously and sadly “Gay Pride” dominated and “LGBT Pride” was ignored. Searches for LGBT, GLBT or LGBTQ were rainbow styled but not the more inclusive LGBTI or LGBTIQ/LGBTQIA, excluding Intersex people from the gender and sexuality spectrum terminology despite inclusive advances elsewhere, such as in Europe, with the shift to LGBTI/Q.

Google same-sex marriage search 2013

Google has gone “gay” before, last year same-sex marriage was highlighted during Pride Month because of the US Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8 rulings. Outside of LGBT calendar events Google has also been political in support of LGBT gay rights. It has created 2000+ Google doodles over the years and for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it added a far from subtle LGBT activism to its logo doodle by using the 6-banded rainbow flag colours behind various sports events images. The search box would also come up with the Olympic Charter words highlighting inclusivity in sport as an obvious dig at Putin’s anti-gay education laws: Google Winter Oympics, Sochi Russia, LGBT Doodle

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” – Olympic Charter www.google.ru/#q=olympic+Charter

This year, someone has also discovered an “Easter Egg” or hidden coding within Google Docs Sheet (similar to Excel) that turns the entire spreadsheet’s column background colours rainbow hues simply by typing P in Cell A1, R in Cell A2, I in Cell A 3, D in Cell A4 and E in Cell A5, spelling out “PRIDE” across the first row columns.

Google Docs PRIDE Rainbow colors SpreadSheet

Microsoft’s older Excel versions have long had hidden Easter Egg programs buried within, several were full blown racing or Doom style games. #Pride hashtag on Twitter 2014Twitter #Pride hashtag flagMeanwhile, during this year’s Pride weekend, Twitter has interpolated a mini rainbow flag  image anytime the hashtag #Pride was used.

Search Engine Land monitors Google’s annual LGBT activist and temporary re-branding of search results. Personally, I think it’s great, but it’s also clearly far from neutral, or non-partisan. It shows the world’s largest search engine is on side, but also political which makes one worry in what other ways it manipulates results and opinion. Read more about this year’s Pride parades and Stonewall Inn riot anniversary. [An earlier version of this article first appeared here]

Facebook error, Sorry, something went wrong – Life without Facebook

Facebook website goes down

Without warning Facebook terror has struck, well Facebook error at least, and with thousands taking to Twitter to inform us of what we already knew, but at least it confirmed it was global and not a purge of ailurophile account holders – that’s cat lovers to you and me.

The dystopic vision of life for over 1.25 billion people without Facebook is over, as after 30 minutes down Facebook was back. For 30 minutes this morning around 9am GMT in the UK, as everyone logged onto their computers at work – and checked their Facebook accounts first, the site crashed rendering just a 2013 error page saying “Sorry, something went wrong – We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.”

Facebook down error The irony of having to use rival Twitter to announce a Facebook error meltdown, which included the mobile platform too, was tracked in tens of thousands of tweets and trending hashtags #facebookdown as well as “facebook error”, and then after ‘THE EVENT’, via #WhenFacebookWasDown and #facebookup. A TEOTWAWKI moment if ever there wasn’t (“The end of the world as we know it”).

There was no sign of an immediate crash in the share price after its near 2% rise the day before, just a drop of 1.9%  in trading later that day when the NYSE/NASDAQ opened. Longer term, advertisers and shareholders may reflect on the downtime of something that in barely over 10 years people have come to regard as universally available and as synonymous with life’s daily essentials as having a phone, electricity or the Internet.

For many, instead of the morning login to check cute cats, messages and memes, it was a case of having to read a paper, talk to your partner or work colleague, or go for a walk and enjoy nature, even do some work.

For a productivity increase to really happen, Twitter and Pinterest would also have to go down.

Funny how we forget the simple things and it takes the denial of service of some technology to realise we survived half our lives or more without it. Indeed, Facebook has only been around a decade, and thus February 2004, the birth of Facebook, was year zero, I was born 37 BF (Before Facebook), today is 10 AF (Anno Facebook).

All the Sci-Fi films of the past predicted androids, utopias, flying cars – none of which have fully happened, and none foresaw how endemic and pervasive a social media platform might become and how technology would be part and parcel of being social. Star Trek communicator “badges” never had the option for “Klingons on the starboard bow” – Share this on Facebook.

I remember, as a kid, a television show called Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead?” The 1973 TV show actually ran until 1995 with Russell T Davies of Doctor Who fame being at one point a producer and director of it. Again, the irony, as a television programme self-referenced turning itself off so that we would go and play outside during the school holidays rather than be glued to the gogglebox. The BBC itself said “If the programme had actually succeeded of course then it wouldn’t have had an audience.”

According to analytics by the Guardian, users didn’t just switch off and do something off social media, instead they simply switched channels from Facebook to Twitter. Some, “Apparently, … even went to Google+.”

News sites seemed relatively unaware at first, papers that publish throughout the day like London’s Metro were quick to publish after the site was restored but with little response from Facebook yet other than this:

“Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100%. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused… This doesn’t happen often, but when it does we make sure we learn from the experience so we can make Facebook that much more reliable.”

Back in 2010 when the site was down for 2.5 hours Facebook issued an apology or rather an unintelligible engineering explanation for it. The Independent reported that people were  complaining about having to spend time with their offspring or go on to Pinterest for inspirational quotes. They quote the movie about the founding of Facebook, ‘The Social Network’, where Mark Zuckerberg proudly said “Facebook would never go down.”

The dilemma is that for many business models Facebook has become one of the leading referrers for business traffic, alongside Google, Pinterest etc. So 30 minutes downtime is 30 minutes lost business, losing millions worldwide. “Publishers” in particular “saw referral traffic from Facebook fall off a cliff as the outage hit”, the Guardian reported.

Taking advantage

The Metro was also quick to jump on the ever pervasive lists bandwagon with “Five ways we used the crash to our advantage“, it won’t be long before the blogs have “Ten things to do when you can’t get on Facebook”. The Nestlé KitKat Philippines ‏Twitter account @kitkat_ph was quick to take advantage “Looks like #Facebook is having a BREAK right now. Have a BREAK, too! :)”.

Tech tip

You can always check whether sites are down for everyone or just you on isitdownrightnow.com and downrightnow.com.