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Could There Be a Link Between the Mysterious Facebook Outage and the Whistleblower?

Could There Be a Link Between the Mysterious Facebook Outage and the Whistleblower?

Facebook went dark for the longest time in its history soon after a whistleblower blew the lid off of some of the social media giant’s questionable practices. Is this a mere coincidence or something more?

On Monday, Oct 4. Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, suffered from widespread outages. The global outages continued for about 7 hours. Facebook and Instagram appear to have recovered as of Monday afternoon around 6 p.m. Eastern.

At 6:33 p.m., the company confirmed that its services had been restored.

“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us,” the official Facebook Twitter feed announced.

Coincidentally, in addition to the temporary outages, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is set to testify against the social media giant. She revealed herself on CBS’ “60 Minutes” as the woman who anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement that Facebook’s own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation, leads to increased polarization, and that Instagram, specifically, can harm teenage girls’ mental health.

Haugen claimed that Facebook betrayed “democracy” by allowing the algorithm to push misinformation on its users during the 2020 election. She said the company recognized the risk of misinformation and added safety systems to reduce that risk, but she accused the company of loosening those measures after the election.

“As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off, or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety,” Haugen said. “And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.”

Haugen also leaked internal documents to The Wall Street Journal, dubbed “The Facebook Files,” which paint a picture of a company focused on growth and its own interests instead of the public good. Facebook has vehemently denied the allegations.

While it is normal for websites and apps to suffer outages, one on a global scale is rare. Facebook has also vehemently denied Haugen’s allegations, prompting some conspiracy theories to propose that the “crash” was a deliberate shut down by the company in order to clean house and delete evidence before Haugen testifies.

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12 Comments

  1. Joseph S. Bruder

    I don’t usually subscribe to conspiracy theories like that, but it certainly sounds like something Zuckerberg would do – take his own sites down for a day just to make sure people realize how important they are. Of course, that can backfire too – either people don’t realize they’re down (or attribute the problem to the local internet being overloaded or something), or find the break from social media refreshing and decide they don’t need it. Or they might look for alternatives if they realize how much it can affect them.

    Reply
  2. frank stetson

    I just heard on Fox that Bezo’s WAPO prints pandemic fear pieces because the pandemic economy profits Amazon mightily.

    While I don’t have a clue if true, it does give one pause to consider that one of the largest retailers across the globe also feeds us our news and media information. IMO, there’s something wrong with that. Just not sure that content providers should be product retailers. And I am pretty darned sure that product retailers should not be our content providers.

    PBS lookin better n better every day. Maybe we should fund some of that kind of stuff via taxes? I know, we need to start the campaign to federally fund PBP so it can remain free, unvarnished, and untainted by it’s corporate masters. Free PBP to be free!!

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Hi Frank,

      I’m a little confused by your last statement…

      Do you mean you like PBS (Public Broadcast System), which has a very fine selection of news and programming? It already has about 15% government funding.

      Or are you advocating that Punching Bag Post, which is a wanna-be Newsmax that currently shills the supposedly conservative (but actually more Trumpian) opinions of a small media marketing company, be supported by federal dollars?

      Just want to clarify whether you are being intentionally snarky or by accident…

      As far as Amazon owning news sites – there used to be laws about use of public airwaves, responsible journalism, controlling too many media companies in the same market, etc. All that is mostly gone out the window. I wish there was some sort of accountability, other than letting the free market decide. Even here in PBP, the authors have written that too much “free market” can lead to bad things. This is a “Prime” example.

      Reply
    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Regarding “Fox says Wapo”… that’s definitely the pot calling the kettle black…

      Reply
  3. frank stetson

    I meant PBS, which gets taxpayer funds, looks like a better model every day. And yes, maybe Punching Bag should be funded the same way to keep Larry unvarnished and free from Trumper funding.

    IOW, maybe it’s time for taxpayers to fund some information sources, perhaps one per party. Cuz Bezos/Amazon is one hell of a fox to let into the media henhouse. At least Murdoch is pretty much all media.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Public Radio usually tells the truth about issues, and in fact over-represent the minority opinion (which is usually Republican)ca. Because of that, Republicans have vilified the NPR and PBS. I don’t think anyone could objectively say that Trump was “normal” in any way, that he was honest or fair or even working in the best interests of anyone but himself. But any media company that criticised Trump or reported any of his (many) transgressions was immediately called out by Trump and/or conservatives and labeled as “liberal media” – from NPR to CNN, and even FOX got that treatment for a while.

      I don’t see how having multiple public radio stations would help that. We already have public media (the internet) that lets anyone who wants to engage in a free-for-all orgy of “free speech”, and it’s a cluster-fuck. The only thing you’d be adding would be taxpayer funding of the cluster fuck.

      I kind of liked the old media rules from the Walter Cronkite days – networks won the ratings battles by having the most honest and believable anchors, opinion was always labeled as such, networks worked hard to protect their reputations, stations could get their licenses pulled if there was evidence of conflicts of interest, or the public complained too much about violating “community standards” (which have also gone by the wayside), or even for having too much concentration in a market. It’s gone now, not coming back, we just have to deal with it until a new model emerges. Trump irreversibly broke the old paradigms.

      Reply
      • Larry kuhn

        You two should get a room

        Reply
        • Joseph S. Bruder

          Wow, what a brilliant addition to the conversation! Larry, you should get your own column. Then PBP would have duelling Larry’s…

          Reply
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  5. frank stetson

    According to media bias, PBS leans left, but is left-center. NPR is the same: left-center.

    My point was perhaps taxpayer-funding gets you less bias, but perhaps the right-center should be supported by taxes too. Just an idea, not a crusade for me. Anything might be better than Bozo owning WAPO and putting Amazon’s priorities in that mix.

    Honestly, I don’t know the list of all we fund, but perhaps we should fund right-center PBS so folks might better trust their media, and said media might actually be trustworthy.

    Reply
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    • Joseph S. Bruder

      There’s a bot if I ever saw one…

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