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Phil Roessler on Facebook’s Recent Outage

Professor Phil Roessler

Professor Philip Roessler, Associate Chair of the Government Department and co-director of the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab, spoke to ABC News about Facebook’s recent six-hour outage and its immense significance for our society. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp crashed on Monday, October 4, 2021, sending the “Internet into disarray and plunging billions of users into digital darkness.” Professor Roessler stated that the outage’s effect “speaks to the vulnerability of our dependence on these platforms.” In countries where Professor Roessler does his research, such as Kenya and Malawi, “WhatsApp is an essential part of the communications infrastructure” and has “become this kind of backbone of these emerging economies.” Professor Roessler also notes that WhatsApp is especially useful in locations without universal literacy, as the platform allows users to send voice-based messages. Roessler commented, “if [the outage] lasted much longer, you know, the effects would have been quite deep and severe.” You can read the full story on the ABC News website.