Are We Too Reliant On Big Tech In Marketing?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

This week saw WhatsApp crash for over an hour and it was an hour of mayhem for some users. The messaging service owned by Meta (previously known as Facebook) left users unable to send messages, make calls or video chat for nearly two hours before apologising and getting servers back online!

During the outage, users took to Twitter (as we all do in a crisis) to air their grievances and create some hilarious memes. On Tuesday morning, #WhatsAppDown was trending on Twitter, with more than 140,000 tweets flooding the internet…


But whilst many were tweeting, others found themselves unable to conduct business or get in touch with loved ones. WhatsApp boasts over two billion monthly active users and has become a mainstay for messaging in most countries.

Understandably, Monday’s server crash sent some users reeling.

A similar situation happened in South Korea (where I’m currently living and working remotely from) last week when life went askew as a fire broke out in KakaoTalk’s data centre, knocking out all communications for the tech giant. KakaoTalk, as you may or may not know, is South Korea’s answer to WhatsApp but it has its claws far deeper in the average Korean’s life than it may seem.

The South Korean Super App

Unlike WhatsApp, KakaoTalk has built a countrywide franchise off the back of their instant messaging app, operating in several sectors. Their businesses include, KakaoT (a ride hailing service not unlike uber or lyft), KakaoBike (an electric bike rental service), KakaoBank, Melon (a music streaming service) and MANY more.

Not to mention they even have a whole merchandise line called KakaoFriends that features itself on every Kakao service, they originally began as emoticon characters but have expanded to become beloved figures all over the country.

This year, Kakao reported 47.5 million monthly active users in South Korea during the second quarter. That’s more than 90% of South Korea’s population of 51.74 million people, as of Nov. 1, 2021.

During the outage, millions of people had trouble getting in touch with one another. Many could not pay for everyday items at convenience stores or order food and groceries, and travellers were left stranded because they were not able to book taxis, depriving drivers of income.

The service is also used to do a lot of business. Store owners and business operators use the messaging app to get in touch with clients and take orders and reservations for services, but without any way to send and receive messages a lot of revenue was lost.

Kakao plans to compensate businesses that had taken a hit from the outage and ensure another outage is prevented. Alongside this, co-CEO Whon Namkoong resigned from his position after feeling a “heavy burden of responsibility” over the incident.

The days-long outage and the havoc it caused stirred a national reckoning over the country’s growing dependency on Big Tech.

Whilst it may seem convenient to have all your important apps and information in one place, is it really a good idea to place so much dependency on one company?


Get in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn and let us know your thoughts on this!