In the movie The Social Network of the year 2010, which recounts the origins of Facebook, there is a particular scene that today becomes relevant as a result of the fall of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp a few days ago. In the tape, the Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Einseberg yells over the phone to Eduardo Saverin that the difference between Facebook in 2004 and the rest of the social networks of the time is that “Facebook never goes down.”
The context of this scene is very simple. Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook with Zuckerberg, had frozen the bank account of the then small company of four Harvard students. And that action put at risk the company, which was growing at a very fast rate and needed more and more servers, in addition to paying the rent of a house and other expenses necessary for Facebook to function.
“If the servers go down for even a day,” says Zuckerberg in the movie, “our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed. And if a few users leave, the entire user base suffers. “
The dialogues of the film -which is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich – it is very likely that they are not exactly as they happened in real life. But the Mark Zuckerberg of the film had a point: in the early 2000s, the social networks that existed were rudimentary and users, very volatile. If a few left and the connections were limited or interrupted, the entire platform began to fall. Friendster it was proof of that.
More than 17 years after the discussion between Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, a lot of water has run under the bridge. Facebook is no longer just a university social network, but the largest in the world and in some countries, Facebook it’s the internet. The platform is used not only to connect with people or post memes, but small and large companies use it to do business.
Likewise, Facebook also owns Instagram, another platform that goes beyond publishing images. Around Instagram there are all kinds of businesses, formal and less formal. And why talk about WhatsApp, the favorite communication platform in Latin America that many people use even if they don’t want to, because everyone is on WhatsApp.
All these platforms went down for more than six hours on October 4 and it is difficult to think that their reputation among the public will be destroyed, as the Mark Zuckerberg of 2004 anticipated. During the fall of the three social networks, people took a tour of Twitter and tens of millions of new users appeared on Telegram. But those visits to other platforms are probably temporary, because once the service is restored, everything seems to have run its usual course for Facebook.
In 2021, Facebook represents something that goes beyond just being a social network that connects people. Its reputation among ordinary people does not seem to be affected by the constant scandals in which it is involved and the questioning of the use of the data and information it collects. Mark Zuckerberg himself had to testify in front of the United States Congress to give explanations for events that occurred on the platform he created in a dormitory at Harvard.
What seems to be a (happy) reality for Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the directors and investors is that something too big has to happen for Facebook’s reputation to be truly affected. And so far, no lawsuits, no drops, or scandals have seemed to matter too much to the platform’s more than 2 billion users, who waited patiently for their favorite social networks to come back online.
If the Mark Zuckerberg of The Social Network Had he imagined that, he probably wouldn’t have yelled at his friend on the phone.