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Facebook promises to use less water and clean what’s left8 min read

August 23, 2021 5 min read


Facebook promises to use less water and clean what’s left8 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Facebook’s pledge

GIF mark zuckerberg - animated GIF on GIFER - by Bludredeemer

Facebook just pledged that the company will go water positive by 2030. That means that not only will they use a lot less water, but they will also fund projects that put water back in the water cycle or reduce water wastage. Moreover, they will help other ventures that make clean drinking water available to everyone.

For context, in 2020, Facebook used 3.7 million cubic meters (1 cubic metre is 1,000 litres) of water — a volume equivalent to nearly 1,500 Olympic-size swimming pools!!!

social media facebook GIF by weinventyou

Wait a minute! Wait a minute!?! Facebook, the social media company? What is it doing using up all of this water?

Data centres

Mark Zuckerberg: Founder of Facebook | AMIGAMAG
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook. Image: AMIGMAG

No, Mark Zuckerberg is not water-guzzling hydration enthusiast. As it turns out, every time you upload a picture on Facebook, it doesn’t just hang around harmlessly in the air. All of the data that Facebook’s billions of users post online gets stored with the company.

data GIF by Ryan Seslow

You’ve probably heard worried-looking people screaming about how Facebook is taking their data. Well, it is, and to function in the way that it does, it needs to. (It’s what happens to this data that has us all worried, and from what we’ve gathered, it’s not all great)

So, where does Facebook store all this data with which it does “nothing harmful”? The answer:

In data centres.

Data Centres are physical centres packed with servers. Servers are computers and computer programs that manage data and the company’s networks and processes.

Facebook in Ireland: Our newest data center - Facebook Engineering
Facebook’s Data Center in Ireland. Image: BBC

So much information

So, essentially, Facebook stores all of your data and processes it on these servers. But they do this billion of times for billions of people. In fact, Facebook’s servers store over four petabytes of data per day. That’s a million gigabytes. And one gigabyte contains one thousand megabytes of data, while a megabyte contains ten lakh bytes of data. So, one petabyte contains… Ummm… I’ll leave the math to you.

Walk Engineer Sticker by GIGABYTE Technology

Data is stored in bytes. One Byte is a unit of digital information.

Instagram Facebook Sticker by Sala de Sonhos

Did you know that Facebook owns both Instagram and Whatsapp? So, if you were thinking, who even uses Facebook anymore? (The thought crossed all of our minds.) Remember, Facebook isn’t just Facebook. The company has bigger fish to fry and a whole lot more data to store.


Sizzling Servers

As you would imagine, all these servers require uninterrupted energy and electricity to run. And when they’re running all day and all night, they get toasty, extremely toasty. Just think about how hot your laptop gets when you use heavy software, play a game, or have too many tabs open. Now imagine the heat generated when billions of tabs are running and computing at once. That’s enough heat to melt the servers, cause fires and other catastrophic outcomes.

Russia blames Google outage on data centre fire - BBC News
Google’s data centre in Russia caught fire and caused a power outage. Image: BBC
Defining Liquid Cooling in the Data Center | Thermal Management
Cooling Data Centres with water pipes. Image: Upsite Technologies

So, Facebook has to do the only logical thing possible: Cool down the servers. And, in order to do that, the company uses water. 1,500 Olympic size swimming pools of it!

The Solution

But now, Facebook has found a solution to their Olympic size water needs. The company has discovered a way in which to cool their data centres using just air! That’s right. Plain old air is set to replace 80% of Facebook’s water needs. So, next time you’re scrolling through social media, you don’t have to worry about starting a water war. (Although there is a lot else you should worry about. Cue: mental health)

Click on this image to read the views of our ambassador on the impact of social media.

And to top it all off, Facebook is already funding projects that provide clean water to parts of America that are facing water shortages. Facebook is also planning to fund clean water and drinking water initiatives in India sooner than later. With these endeavours, and all the other great projects that Facebook is funding, the company will be adding more freshwater to the water table than it is taking.

Animation Friends Sticker by Green Generation

Freshwater is water that you find in rivers and in the ground. Unlike sea and ocean water, freshwater is not salinated and is optimal for human use. On the other hand, humans have contaminated both fresh and sea water with chemicals and toxins. Several organisations are attempting to clean this water before it re-enters the water table.


The Social Dilemma

GIPHY News yeah facebook mark zuckerberg testimony GIF

Despite how awe-inspiring this news is, there has been some scepticism from a few experts. Many believe that Facebook’s promises are diminished by the activities of the platform. In fact, Facebook allows ads worth billions of dollars that spread fake news about climate change that convinces people that global warming isn’t real. More importantly, these ads and campaigns make people behave in ways that are detrimental to the planet and vote for leaders who won’t fight to stop climate change.

Climate Power 2020, Accountable Tech Launch Ad Campaign Demand Facebook  Close Its Climate Denial Loophole | Climate Power
Image: Climate Power

Nonetheless, Facebook’s initiative is incredible and inspiring. In fact, this decision follows similar climate positive moves made by several other large technology companies. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are a few more companies that have made sustainability pledges recently. These promises will go a long way in fighting the continuous and disastrous warming of our beautiful planet.

Facebook has already made all its office’s carbon neutral. This means that the company’s offices absorb as much carbon as they release into the atmosphere. Facebook has promised to go completely carbon-neutral by 2030.

With Excerpts From: The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, Energy Live News, Digital Information World, Forbes, How Stuff Works, CNBC,Network World, and Medium.

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