Filed Under: Tech

Tough times for Facebook: App suffers outage as whistleblower speaks out

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Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down for hours Monday as part of a worldwide outage with left many without service late into the afternoon. The video above shows what it looked like for those trying to log in using a browser.

The Facebook outage started just before noon EST. As of late Monday afternoon, the only public comments from Facebook on the outage were two tweets on the company’s Twitter page.

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” Facebook tweeted shortly after the outage. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Facebook retweeted a similar message regarding the outage from Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer later in the afternoon.

The cause of the outage remains unclear. Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for a network monitoring and intelligence company, said it appears Facebook withdrew “authoritative DNS routes” that let the rest of the internet communicate with its properties.

The outage comes just a day after a data scientist shared damning allegations from her time working at Facebook. The video above also shows the White House’s response to the allegations from Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“Facebook is optimizing content for an engagement or reaction, but its own research is showing that content that is hateful, divisive, polarizing, it is easier to inspire people to anger than it is other emotions,” Frances Haugen said in her interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer people will spend less time on the site and they will click on less ads, they will make less money.”

In the interview, Haugen identified herself as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement regarding Facebook’s research and practices.

Among the allegations, Haugen claimed Facebook prematurely turned off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump last year. Haugen said this contributed to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Ahead of the interview’s broadcast, Facebook’s vice president of policy and public affairs called Haugen’s allegations “misleading.”

“Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out,” Nick Clegg wrote in a company memo sent Friday. “But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”

 

 

Reporter question: “Do these revelations change the way the White House thinks about regulating Facebook and other social media giants?”

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “Well, as we saw, the revelations that came out in that interview, in our view, this is just the latest in a series of revelations about social media platforms that make clear that self-regulation is not working. That’s long been the president’s view, and been the view of this administration. They validate the significant concern that the president and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed about how social media giants operate and the power they’ve amassed. Reports in recent weeks, and I think obviously the whistleblower was, came forward last night and in the report, but about efforts to attract young users and negative effects on teenagers mental health are certainly troubling. They’re hardly isolated incidents. And so are our effort is going to be continue to support fundamental reforms, efforts to address these issues. Obviously, that would be up to the purview of Congress, but certainly we view these as a continuing in a series of revelations about the power of these platforms.”

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down for hours Monday as part of a worldwide outage with left many without service late into the afternoon. The video above shows what it looked like for those trying to log in using a browser.

The Facebook outage started just before noon EST. As of late Monday afternoon, the only public comments from Facebook on the outage were two tweets on the company’s Twitter page.

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” Facebook tweeted shortly after the outage. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Facebook retweeted a similar message regarding the outage from Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer later in the afternoon.

The cause of the outage remains unclear. Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for a network monitoring and intelligence company, said it appears Facebook withdrew “authoritative DNS routes” that let the rest of the internet communicate with its properties.

The outage comes just a day after a data scientist shared damning allegations from her time working at Facebook. The video above also shows the White House’s response to the allegations from Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“Facebook is optimizing content for an engagement or reaction, but its own research is showing that content that is hateful, divisive, polarizing, it is easier to inspire people to anger than it is other emotions,” Frances Haugen said in her interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer people will spend less time on the site and they will click on less ads, they will make less money.”

In the interview, Haugen identified herself as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement regarding Facebook’s research and practices.

Among the allegations, Haugen claimed Facebook prematurely turned off safeguards designed to thwart misinformation after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump last year. Haugen said this contributed to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Ahead of the interview’s broadcast, Facebook’s vice president of policy and public affairs called Haugen’s allegations “misleading.”

“Social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out,” Nick Clegg wrote in a company memo sent Friday. “But what evidence there is simply does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media more generally, is the primary cause of polarization.”

 

 

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