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Belgium in Brief: Message Not Sent

Credit: Belga/Screengrab

After an outage that lasted about six hours, social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger slowly started working again in the middle of last night.

While Twitter users mostly enjoyed the opportunity to poke fun at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the outage had major consequences for individuals, companies and businesses around the world.

Aside from preventing around 3.5 billion people across the world from communicating on these platforms for many hours, the outage affected many small businesses and creators who rely on these services for their income.

Additionally, as many people use Facebook to log into other apps and websites, the outage also resulted in people not being able to access their accounts for online shopping websites, their smart TVs and other internet-connected devices.

On a smaller, more personal scale, I received an old-school SMS for the first time in a long time and spent 10 seconds wondering what that sound was before realising I had forgotten what a regular text notification sounded like.

Just to underline how much we’ve collectively come to rely on social media, Belgian telecom providers also reported that regular phone traffic (texts and calls that do not use the internet) went up by roughly 33% between 6:00 PM and midnight.

A more in-depth explanation of what happened can be found in this article.

How did you experience the outage? Let @johnstonjules know (or @maithechini, as she wrote it today) 

BUT WAIT, one last thing: Want news from The Brussels Times in your inbox every morning? Sign up for The Recap, a free daily newsletter containing all the stories you need to know from the day before. It goes great with your morning coffee. 

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1. All Facebook apps working again after outage that affected 3.5 billion

Facebook has announced that its apps — which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus – are once again working after a six-hour global outage on Monday evening. Read more.

2. Booster vaccine from Pfizer approved for all adults

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech can be used as a booster shot for healthy adults and people with weakened immune systems, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) decided on Monday. Read more.

3. ‘No evidence’ that Covid-19 vaccines pose risks to fertility or pregnancy

Concerns regarding the Covid-19 vaccines’ effect on fertility are one of the most important reasons that people – particularly younger ones – hesitate to get a shot, Fatima Boudjaoui, spokesperson for the Joint Community Commission (Cocom), told The Brussels Times. Read More.

4. ‘Do not leave your face mask at home just yet,’ warns Van Gucht

Even though the rules for wearing a face mask have been relaxed in Belgium since 1 October, virologist Steven Van Gucht still urges people not to leave the house without one. Read More.

5. Congolese student whose expulsion failed may now stay

A 20-year-old student from Congo whose expulsion was ordered but failed to take place will now be allowed to remain in the country, according to the Office for Foreigners. Read more.

6. Belgium launches Facebook campaign to slow secondary migration of Afghans

The Belgian Foreign Office launched a Facebook campaign on Tuesday intended to slow down the influx of secondary migrants from Afghanistan to Belgium. Read more.

7. European flag wrongly displayed in Belgium’s CovidSafe app

The official flag of the European Union is wrongly depicted in the CovidSafeBE app, as the 12 stars are upside down. Read more.

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