• Eyal Pinko

Facebook Malfunction – Strange Timing?

Yesterday (4/10/2021), during the evening, the services of the WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram apps, three apps owned by the Facebook company, were shut down.

Millions of users around the world were left unable to communicate through the apps for about six hours. This was the company's most prolonged service shutdown since 2008. Many users even reported malfunctions connecting to Amazon, Google, and Twitter unrelated to Facebook.

During the shutdown, speculations began to be heard as to its source. Some "experts" claimed that it was most likely a cyberattack on the company.

Facebook officially announced that "the malfunction was caused due to incorrect settings of the routers." This malfunction caused a "domino" effect in communication between servers spread across the globe. It is unclear whether the malfunction was caused by a human error, a software malfunction, or a malicious vulnerability caused by a cyberattack.

Facebook also said the malfunction affected the company's internal development and maintenance systems and tools. In addition, gossips circulating in forums and Twitter claimed that the company's employee card reading system did not work. As a result, employees were forced to open the front doors of the company's offices with an electric saw.

Facebook apologized to its users and tried to reassure them by claiming that there were no findings, indicating a leak of users' personal information due to the malfunction.

Following the malfunction, Facebook shares fell by about 5%.

Following the crash, cellular companies reported hundreds of percent increase in the use of text messages and phone calls. It is likely that the other messaging apps, Signal, Viber, and Telegram, have also undergone a significant overhaul as a result of the shutdown of WhatsApp, and most of the global communication had gone through them.

Whether it is a malfunction or a human error, the timing of the malfunction is somewhat strange and raises questions, not just among conspiracy theorists.

The crash occurred just a day after the "Facebook files" were exposed by a former employee of the organization, Frances Haugen, on Sunday (3/10) on the "60 Minutes" show.

Haugen, who was interviewed for the show, worked at Facebook until about six months ago. She was a product manager on the team who was in charge of fighting erroneous civilian information.

After the 2020 election, the team was disbanded. She claims the team disbandment has led her to an internal value conflict and the understanding that "Facebook prefers what is good for her rather than good for the public."

Haugen also worked on Google and Pinterest in her past, but "Google is worse than anything she has seen." In the company's internal documents that she leaked, it was written that Instagram is aware that it exacerbates worries among children and teenagers regarding their self-image and their body image. At the same time, to face the growing competition with the Tik-Tok app, the company is developing an "Instagram Kids" app, which is suitable for children and teenagers to share photos and videos.

Haugen also noted that Facebook understands that if it changes its algorithm to allow more security for users, they will spend less time on the app, click less on ads. Thus Facebook will suffer from heavy financial losses.

Is the malfunction in the company's systems not a human error or a technical malfunction? Is the fault an expression of support for Haugen's revelation or an attempt to have her words heard aloud (and without fear of being harmed)?

We probably will not know the truth, but no doubt there is a significant statement here about our dependence on the media and social apps on the one hand. On the other hand, we all received a reminder that our lives are affected by these apps, tailored to our personal customer experience, passions, curiosity, and feelings.

We will more and more use those apps, contributing to the ever-expanding pockets of the owners of these companies, whether we like it or not, control our world.

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