^

Technology

Facebook fights global outage and whistleblower revelations

Joshua Melvin - Agence France-Presse
Facebook fights global outage and whistleblower revelations
(FILES) this file photo taken on October 05, 2020 in Toulouse, southwestern France, shows logos of US social networks Facebook and Instagram on the screens of a tablet and a mobile phone. Major social media services including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were hit by a massive outage on October 4, 2021, tracking sites showed, impacting potentially tens of millions of users.
AFP/Lionel BONAVENTURE

WASHINGTON, United States — Facebook battled dueling crises on Monday as it faced a large-scale outage of its dominant social network for seven hours, and fought against a whistleblower's damning revelations.

Many long-held fears and criticisms about the platform seem to have been backed up by Facebook's own research, which ex-worker Frances Haugen has turned over to authorities and the Wall Street Journal.

But as US senators prepared for her highly anticipated Tuesday testimony on the documents, Facebook struggled to end an hours-long outage that potentially hit tens of millions of users across its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Tracker Downdetector said it had received 10.6 million reports of problems ranging from the United States and Europe to Colombia and Singapore, with trouble first popping up around 1545 GMT. 

Roughly seven hours later, the services began returning online.

"We've been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now," Facebook said in a tweet late Monday afternoon in Silicon Valley.

Facebook had "reconnected to the global internet" as of 2228 GMT but it was expected to take a bit of time to get the social network's family of services back running smoothly, web security company Cloudflare said in a blog post.

Facebook has not communicated on the possible cause of the outage, but cyber security experts noted they had found signs that online routes that lead people to the social giant were disrupted.

"Facebook and related properties disappeared from the Internet in a flurry of BGP updates," tweeted John Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer at Cloudflare.

During the outage, Mike Schroepfer, the company's chief technology officer, tweeted his "Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now."

Users trying to access Facebook in affected areas during the outage were greeted with the message: "Something went wrong. We're working on it and we'll get it fixed as soon as we can."

'Make body dissatisfaction worse'

Facebook has pushed back hard against the outrage regarding its practices and impact, but this is just the latest crisis to hit the business.

US lawmakers for years have threatened to regulate Facebook and other social media giants to address criticisms that the platforms trample on privacy, provide a megaphone for dangerous misinformation and damage young people's well-being.

After years of criticism directed at social media, without major legislative overhauls, some experts were skeptical that change was coming. 

"This is a situation where there's going to be a lot of smoke, and a lot of fury, but not a lot of action," said Mark Hass, an Arizona State University professor

"It's going to have to come down to the platforms, feeling pressure from their users feeling pressure from their employees," he added, noting authorities won't effectively be able to regulate content. 

Haugen, a 37-year-old data scientist from Iowa, has worked for companies including Google and Pinterest — but said in an interview with CBS news show "60 Minutes" that Facebook was "substantially worse" than anything she had seen before.

Facebook's vice president of policy and global affairs Nick Clegg vehemently pushed back at the assertion its platforms are "toxic" for teens, days after a tense, hours-long congressional hearing in which US lawmakers grilled the company over its impact on the mental health of young users.

Senators put the social media giant's Antigone Davis through the wringer last week over damning reports that Facebook's own research warned of potential harm.

Davis told lawmakers that a survey of teens on 12 serious issues like anxiety, sadness and eating disorders showed that Instagram was generally helpful to them.

Yet, Senator Richard Blumenthal read aloud excerpts from company documents he said were leaked to lawmakers by a Facebook whistleblower that directly contradicted her.

"Substantial evidence suggests that experiences on Instagram and Facebook make body dissatisfaction worse," he said, adding the finding was not a disgruntled worker's complaint but company research. — with Thomas Urbain in New York

FACEBOOK
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 27, 2021 - 7:53am

Get the latest news about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. Main image from by Pixelkult from Pixabay 

October 27, 2021 - 7:53am

Twitter says it had posted a $537 million net loss in the third quarter after settling a lawsuit alleging investors were misled about slowing user growth.

Despite revenue rising sharply with the help of robust ad sales, Twitter still posted an operating loss of $743 million, fuelled by the more than $800 million settlement.

The 2016 federal suit filed by shareholders claimed the defendants, such as former CEO Dick Costolo, did not disclose the full picture of the company's state while they sold their personal stock in Twitter.  — AFP

October 26, 2021 - 7:25am

Facebook on Monday reports that its profit in the recently-ended quarter topped $9 billion and its ranks of users continued to increase as the company faced a serious crisis over allegedly putting growth before safety.

Facebook says profit was up 17 percent from the same period last year, and the number of people using the social network monthly climbed 6 percent to 2.91 billion. — AFP

October 23, 2021 - 1:26pm

Facebook held back from doing all it could to stop users from being radicalized and US election misinformation from flooding the social network, according to media reports Friday.

An array of US news outlets cited documents from former Facebook worker Frances Haugen, adding to a series of critical revelations already published based on information she provided.

Articles in the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere on Friday focused on how Facebook apparently intensified political division.

Examples included an internal finding that 10 percent of political content viewed by US users in the days after the election perpetuated the falsehood that the vote had been rigged.

What has come to be known as the "Big Lie" has been repeated relentlessly by former President Donald Trump and enraged his supporters, who stormed the US Capital in a deadly attack on January 6. —  AFP

October 22, 2021 - 7:14am

Google announces it will lower a fee in its app store as pressure mounts on tech giants to loosen their grip over their online marketplaces.

The commission on subscriptions taken by Google Play will be lopped in half to 15 percent starting in January, vice president of product management Sameer Samat says in a blog post.

Currently Google gets a 30 percent cut for the first year of a subscription, then 15 percent on renewals.

Google says the new fee structure meant businesses would not have to wait for subscribers to renew — which they may or may not do — to benefit from a lower commission. — AFP

October 21, 2021 - 6:26pm

Facebook says it had reached an agreement with some French newspapers to pay for news shown on its users' feeds, months after Google announced a similar accord.

Facebook says the deal it struck with a group of national and regional newspapers would see it obtain licenses to publish their content. — AFP

Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with