A global outage of Facebook services lasted for hours on Monday. It occurred a day after a whistleblower came forward criticizing the company.
Facebook’s suite of apps and services suffered a worldwide outage on Monday due to a “faulty configuration change.”
- Krebs on Security simplified the technical jargon by explaining what happened: Facebook “took away the map telling the world’s computers” how to access Facebook’s myriad services.
- The outage comes, some say suspiciously, after a whistleblower interview on 60 Minutes the night before. The whistleblower alleges Facebook chose to keep “hate speech” online in order to profit from it.
- The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, is set to testify in front of the Senate on Tuesday in a hearing about consumer protections.
- European officials are also asking Haugen to testify about her experiences with the “toxic practices” of Facebook in the midst of the EU’s efforts to enforce content regulation for online services.
- The New York Times noted the wide-ranging reactions to Facebook’s outage, reporting how much companies and non-profits rely on Facebook products to communicate with customers while others say the outage “removed a source of distraction and noise.”
- CNN’s report characterized the outage as the latest setback “amid mounting difficulties” for Facebook, noting the whistleblower’s interview and Senate hearing last week criticizing the service for its negative impact on children.
- NPR’s reporting on the outage and restoration of service noted it did not appear to be a hack or malicious attack nor that “user data was compromised.”
- Newsmax highlighted a brief Reuters report that Sen. Amy Klobuchar will press Haugen on Facebook’s responsibility in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
- The Federalist cast skepticism towards Haugen’s altruism, saying her efforts to rid the service of “angry, hateful, polarizing content” is newspeak for things with which she disagrees. The Federalist argues recent efforts to deem “anything skeptical of COVID vaccines” as misinformation belies their true motives to stifle criticism and silence those with which the intelligentsia disagrees.
- Daily Caller focused almost exclusively on Facebook’s outage, quoting company officials while only briefly noting the tangential controversies at the end of their report.
The fact that a single simple error created so many consequences around the world, such as Latin American businesses not being able to take orders or domestic violence non-profits not being able to communicate with victims, shows how too reliant we are on digital services.
There is this online life, a series of social networks, websites, and services overlayed on the real world, slowly suffocating the actual social bonds required for a stable society. While there were negative effects of the outage, life generally went on without issue for most people. Perhaps we can realize that we aren’t actually so reliant on these services, but that they want us to think we are. There has been plenty of reporting and commentary on how bad social media is for mental health.
Let’s all take a breather from it more often.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021