Changes in smartphone app use during the global Facebook outage on 4 October 2021
By Murmuras on Oct 18, 2021
On Monday, October 4th all Facebook apps stopped working for around six hours because of DNS-routing problems. With Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger down, smartphone users were forced to use different apps, especially for communication.
We investigated how people changed their smartphone behavior when Facebook apps went offline. Let’s dive right in!
Facebook Outage: Monday 4 October 18-24h CEST, usages in minutes
Reference period: previous workweek (Mo - Fri), 27. Sept - 1. Oct, 18-24h CEST, usage in minutes, averaged
Number of participants: 400
Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger
Our most interesting findings are in messaging apps. Whatsapp (-62%) and Facebook Messenger (-77%) both lost a significant amount of screentime. Telegram (+366%) and Signal (+269%) were used a lot more . Even pre-millenium “apps” like SMS (+404%) and Phone.app gained However, Whatsapp was still used more than Telegram, SMS and Signal combined, even though it was offline.
Fig.1 Average daily usage of messaging apps in minutes from 6PM - 12AM
Facebook and Instagram
Usage of Facebook and Instagram dropped significantly. Facebook.app usage between 6PM and 12AM on October 4th was three times lower than on other working days. Instagram crashed even harder and was used six times less during the outage. Users mostly went to other social media apps and gaming apps.
Fig.2 Average daily usage of social network apps in minutes from 6PM - 12AM
Smartphone use overall
Overall smartphone use stayed largely the same. On Monday, October 4th, overall phone usage between 6PM and 12AM was about 66 minutes. This is a small 9% decrease compared to Monday of the week before, where it was around 73 minutes.
Fig.1 Average daily phone usage in minutes from 6PM - 12AM
Key takeaways #tl;dr
📱 Overall smartphone use stayed largely the same (9% decrease).
📸 Facebook (-67%) and Instagram (-83%) usage dropped significantly.
📬 Telegram (+366%), SMS (+404%) and Signal (+269%) were used a lot more during the downtime, but
💬 Whatsapp (-62%) was still used more than Telegram, SMS and Signal combined, even though it was offline.