Mondays are hard, they’re especially hard if your a Facebook engineer frantically, desperately trying to get your network connectivity back. Little did they know, or maybe they did know: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus are down globally.
Now I spent the day memeing this to death on Discord. Because frankly, there is no love lost for me. Where do we even begin on Facebook’s very numerous, protracted conflicts that are so long I can’t even summarize them entirely but here goes:
Ars Technica: Algorithms shouldn’t be protected by Section 230, Facebook whistleblower tells Senate
Business Insider: Facebook made money from dangerous ‘abortion reversal’ ads that targeted teens and were seen 18.4 million times
Vice: Instagram Is Still Promoting Eating Disorders and Unproven Diet Pills to Teens
Vox: Facebook is working on a new version of its popular app targeted at children under 13.
So naturally, I am not sad to see it go and see Marky Mark sweat for a whole day while in the midst of being grilled by Congress over the whistleblower’s reports. However, the outage highlights a major issue with Facebook owning all of these properties; namely the outage of WhatsApp.
For Americans not in the know, WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned chat service that took the world by storm when data plans became mainstream on phones. The reasoning for this is myriad but in general the lack of free SMS in most countries propelled it into first place globally. It holds its position as an early adopter and because these types of services, by virtue of using a data network, possess a lot more features and security than SMS ever will.
As you can imagine, this global outage has crippled economies globally who rely exclusively on WhatsApp to communicate. It has brought down numerous countries:
DW: WhatsApp and Facebook outage sparks confusion in Africa
NPR: More than social media: The WhatsApp outage affected small businesses worldwide
So it turns out that not only has Zuck managed to ruin the world via Facebook and Instagram but now, since they’re so consolidated, an outage can shut down the world dependent on WhatsApp? I think there’s a real possibility of breakup action being considered to separate WhatsApp from Facebook before we see any hand-waiving regulation of Facebook itself. Countries are slowly going to start to seeing these sorts of outages as national security threats and either in posturing or reality, will push back against the privitization of their infrastructure in the hands of a company who just doesn’t seem to care.
The real question seems to be: How far can their reputation sink before we see something actionable? Apparently not far or fast enough, quickly enough. Facebook, after all, has nearly three billion years.
You want to speak out against them on their own platform? Best of luck on that project!
Slate: Facebook Banned Me for Life Because I Help People Use It Less