Facebook: a failure that falls very badly, Mark Zuckerberg in turmoil

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, the two social networks and the two messengers of the Californian giant, emerged Tuesday from an unprecedented blackout, which plunged the group into a double crisis after the revelations in broad daylight of a whistleblower. The technical incident constitutes the failure “The most important ever observed” by Downdetector, which collects user reports. “Billions of users have been affected”, assured the site.

Facebook’s global outage made lose almost $ 6 billion (5 billion euros) to Mark Zuckerberg who lost a place in the ranking of the richest personalities in the world. “To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry. We are working hard to get you back into our apps and services and are happy to tell you that they are coming back online at this time ”Facebook tweeted at 10:30 p.m. GMT on Monday, after some seven hours of blackout.

This failure falls very badly for the firm of Mark Zuckerberg, which is going through one of the worst crises on its reputation. In question, a former engineer, Frances Haugen, who accused the group of choosing “Profit rather than safety” of its users, in an interview broadcast by CBS on Sunday.

His revelations gave new impetus to the many critics of Facebook, whose four platforms are used by some 3.5 billion people every month. These revelations show for US President Joe Biden that the company “Does not know how to regulate itself”, according to its spokesperson Jen Psaki. They “Prove the concerns […] about the power the network giants have amassed ”.

The whistleblower will be questioned by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday. “Our sincere apologies to all who are affected […] We have network issues and our teams are working as fast as possible to fix it and get back online ”, Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, tweeted earlier.

The reasons for the failure: a “faulty configuration change”

Facebook said late Monday evening in a statement that the major outage in its networks and messaging systems was caused by a “Faulty configuration change” of its servers

According to cybersecurity experts, the gigantic outage is linked to updates to the routing computer system, which allows servers to be linked to domain names. “At one point this morning, Facebook pulled out the card that allows computers around the world to find its various addresses online,” summed up cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs on his blog.

Facebook’s misfortune has made its competitors happy. Telegram messaging went from 56th to 5th most downloaded free apps in the United States in one day, according to specialist firm SensorTower. “Registrations are on the rise on Signal (welcome everyone)”, also tweeted this other messenger known for its data encryption.

The blackout also delighted mischievous users, who competed in sarcasm on Twitter with the hashtag #facebookdown.

Others complained of being cut off from their contacts, their source of income or their work tool.

Some people were philosophical, like Cindy Bennett, a baker from New York, interviewed by AFP: “In general, I believe the world would be a better place if everyone didn’t know what everyone else is doing all day and night.”

As for tobacco

The incident should bring water to the mill of detractors of Californian society, because it demonstrates its immense hold on daily life.

The impact is even worse in the many countries where Facebook is “Synonymous with + the internet + ”, Or for users who use the social network to access other services, says Jake Williams, co-founder of BreachQuest, a cybersecurity company. However, the authorities are already not lacking in arguments to attack the company.

Especially after the leaks of internal documents orchestrated by Frances Haugen, which allowed the Wall Street Journal to publish, in mid-September, a series of articles on the toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on society.

Adolescent mental health

The most resounding of them detailed the mental health problems of many adolescent girls confronted, frame after frame, with the myth of the ideal female body. A drift of which Facebook is perfectly aware, according to the engineer. Tuesday’s hearing is due to focus on this subject.

According to excerpts from her opening remarks posted on Twitter by US media, Frances Haugen has planned to urge elected officials to regulate Facebook – which many of them regularly promise to do.

“When we realized the tobacco farmers were covering up the damage they were causing, the government acted. When we realized that cars were safer with seat belts, the government acted ”, she should declare. “I beg you to do the same” for Facebook.

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