There are over 7 billion people in the world, and so it's really to be expected that there is someone, somewhere who will do just about any bonehead thing you can imagine. That said, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that a San Francisco area emergency dispatcher is having to ask residents not to call 911 because of a Facebook outage. I mean, people, what was the thought process there?
On January 26th, Facebook and Instagram were temporarily unavailable for about an hour, and according to one Bay Area dispatcher, at least five people called 911 with issues about the websites. The dispatcher, who wished to remain anonymous, reached out to local news site Claycord.com, to spread the word that this is not at all what emergency numbers are for.
"[W]hen Facebook isn’t working, it’s not an emergency," she told Claycord.com "Our lines are dedicated to handle life and death calls, and even though Facebook is important to a lot of people, it’s not a matter of life and death when it stops working." You'd think that wouldn't even need to be said, but apparently that's not the world we live in. In fact, the dispatcher added that, "One caller even called back to tell me I was being rude because I told her it wasn’t a life threatening emergency."
People. Please. Do not make me lose faith in humanity over something as dumb as Facebook.
I'm not sure what is more confusing about this whole thing: the fact that people thought being without Facebook rises to the level of a 911 emergency or that these people seem to be under the impression that 911 can do anything about Facebook. I mean, I get that for some people Facebook seems like some sort of vital thing that we don't know how we'd live without, but it's not actually a government service like the police or the fire department.
Facebook is a private company. If Facebook were to turn off all their servers tomorrow and announce that they were closing up their business for good, just because they felt like it, the government could do absolutely nothing about it. And when Facebook experiences whatever problems cause it to go down for a while, the people at 911 have no information, and no power to do anything.
Again, things that I really shouldn't have to say.
Unfortunately, though, this isn't the first time this has happened. When Facebook was down temporarily in August of last year, the Los Angeles sheriff's office reported getting calls about the "issue."
Seriously people? 911 is there so that people can call in case of an emergency. An actual, potentially life threatening emergency. And if you are tying up the phone someone could literally die. Don't do that.
Please. It's not that hard.
If you want to call Facebook, on the other hand, that is encouraged. They list their customer service number as 650-543-4800. Have at it.