What if the internet went down for a day?

An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer Image: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Arwen Armbrecht
Writer and social media producer, Freelance
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Internet Governance is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Internet Governance

Imagine if the internet went down. How would you communicate? How would you search for job vacancies? You’d probably have to start writing letters, making long-distance phone calls and reading adverts in the local newspaper. Nothing earth-shattering, especially for those old enough to remember the early 90s.

But one thing is for sure: we'd have to change a lot of our habits. Because, as this infographic from The Economist shows, we now rely on the internet for more and more things.

The numbers are enormous, and they keep growing, so much so that this infographic is already slightly out of date, despite being less than a year old. While the average number of tweets is still estimated to be around 500 million a day, Google now processes half a billion more searches a day, bringing the total to around 3.5 billion. Email is also growing. A study by the Radicati Group predicts that by 2018, there will be just under 228 billion emails sent each day.

Not being able to send emails or tweets would be only a minor headache compared with the economic fallout if the internet were to go down. In 2014, it was estimated that the world spent $1.2 million dollars online every 30 seconds.

But even this is just the tip of the iceberg. As we enter the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the lines between the physical, digital and biological are becoming blurred. As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing begin to take their place in the global economy, it seems certain that even if the internet were inactive for just a day, it would affect almost every part of our lives.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum