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Social Media: Facebook outage gives food for thought

For some, it may have seemed as though the world ended when Facebook and Instagram shut down for more than five hours Monday. Rest assured both social media platforms are up and running again. But at what cost?

When one stops to think about the impact of social media and its dominant presence in our daily lives, it’s easy to wonder what would happen if Monday’s outage had been permanent?

Sometimes going back to the basics is necessary. Though people couldn’t see the latest picture of their best friend’s children or an ad that makes them wonder just how much their smartphones can hear, less personal news — at the local, state and national levels — was still being circulated.

It is still possible to get updates on current events without Facebook or other social media. Remember, Mark Zuckerberg’s intentions for the site in 2004, were to create a social platform to connect people.

It evolved into a platform where individuals, businesses and even government agencies disseminate information and opinions. With it, greater numbers of individuals believe they are receiving news because of what they have soaked up without having to seek out their own sources.

Those pieces of “news,” while some may be the result of accurate reporting, tend to be curated based on what a social media platform believes you want to see. That is not the same as, for example, visiting a local wildlife site if you’re an animal lover; or visiting a local newspaper’s site if you want verified local news.

Relying on something as fragile as social media can be dangerous. It is natural to wonder might have happened to all those billions of pieces of personal information during an outage.

Social media has its good points. It helps people do their jobs, it connects family members from all over the world and, yes, it can provide information.

But Facebook’s outage reminds us going back to basics was not the end of the world.

Instead of sharing an “update” on Facebook, call a few close friends or family members who would like to hear about it. Instead of waiting for algorithmic ads to tell you what you want to order online, check out the businesses advertising in your local newspapers and then go visit their stores.

Remember, it’s impossible to hack a print newspaper — and we might all find a few self-imposed outages from the social media mosh pit will do a world of good.

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