Don’t look to Facebook to talk to your loved ones

October 4th should be a day ingrained in everyone’s memory as the day on which Facebook demonstrated its fallibility and undependability. As I write this post, DNS servers appear to load Facebook’s site, but an error message acts as a placeholder for anything else. Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and other Facebook services have been rendered completely useless and the cause/reason is still unclear.

What is clear is that for those of us who travel frequently and do not have hundreds of SIM cards and international phone plans, Facebook is the easiest way to communicate with friends and family from around the world. Now that Facebook owns Whatapp and Instagram, its userbase is enormous. That userbase is now cut off from their loved ones and friends until further notice.

What, then, should be done? The first thing to do is to set up alternative ways of contact. For family members who are not too technologically inclined, I would recommend they use Signal, which is secure and private. For a program that has just about the same amount of security as Facebook and Whatapp, Telegram is a good option. In the same vein is Viber, which I got to know of through the Burmese community, before Messenger’s popularity overtook Viber’s use. Koreans use Kakaotalk and Thais use LINE. I personally have accounts on many of these platforms, but Signal is the most secure, from what I know.

For those willing to go a step even further, I would recommend looking up how to set up a private XMPP server for your friends and family to communicate on. It gives you more control over the data transferred and allows you to determine what kind of traffic is sent through your servers.

In the U.S., it seems that people have not evolved past sending plain SMS (texts) to each other, but in a situation like Messenger being down, having people’s phone numbers and contacting that way is quite handy. The U.S. surprisingly has horrible 4G and Fiber Optic coverage in some areas, so plain Jane texting is sometimes the way to go (aside from a phone call, to which many people in the U.S. seem to be averse).

To learn how to set up your own website and even XMPP and other chat servers, I would recommend readers to check out LandChad, which contains information on how to set up a web server.

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