Facebook and Instagram went down for hours

Tech giant faces heat from outage and whistleblower

By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer

Facebook and its subsidiaries were down for multiple hours last Monday, causing concern about the dependency on the tech giant and the amount of power it wields over today’s technology. 

The outage rendered Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Oculus and WhatsApp inaccessible for almost six hours on Oct. 4. Moreover, people who use Facebook to log in to their devices, websites and smart technology were unable to do so with the absence of the platform. 

“Configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication,” Facebook reported. “This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.” 

As for why the outage lasted as long as it did, the company stated: “The underlying cause of this outage also impacted many of the internal tools and systems we use in our day-to-day operations, complicating our attempts to quickly diagnose and resolve the problem.” 

Facebook maintains that the outage had no impact on user data. However, on Friday, users still reported issues accessing and using Facebook and its many apps. 

Even though last week’s outage affected a small portion of Facebook’s users, it served to further the controversy surrounding the multi-billion-dollar company. 

This comes after whistleblower Frances Haugen testified to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security about Facebook internal workings and knowledge. 

The former employee shared thousands of confidential documents from Facebook with lawmakers and journalists. These documents allege that Facebook knowingly and actively harms young people. Research conducted by Facebook shows that teenage girls are especially harmed by their usage of Instagram, with higher percentages of eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and lower self-esteem being reported. Despite this research, changes to Facebook’s algorithm in 2018 spread divisive posts and misinformation, instead of increasing “meaningful social interaction” as it claimed to do. 

“Facebook chooses to mislead and misdirect. Facebook has not earned our blind faith,” Haugen told the committee. 

She suggested more regulation for Facebook and its app, especially directed at its algorithms that direct the main feeds of the social network. According to Haugen, the current algorithm rewards sensational, hateful and misinforming posts. 

Haugen claims that Facebook broke federal law in not sharing its knowledge and research of the harm it causes, while Facebook is now suggesting that Haugen broke the law and stole the documents she released. 

“This is not simply a matter of certain social media users being angry or unstable, or about one side being radicalized against the other; it is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety,” Haugen testified.