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Facebook outage amidst data breach and algorithm tampering claims

All of Facebook’s services were down for most of the day on October 4, 2021. This includes Facebook, messaging app WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus which requires a Facebook account to log in. As an immediate result of the Facebook outage, the share price of Facebook took a nose dive only to be saved by the closing bell. The share price started the day at US$335.50 and ended at US$326.23, according to Yahoo Finance. This equated to a total loss of 7 billion US dollars for a 7-hour outage.

Mark Zuckerberg’s apology

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Facebook outage and data breach

Before the Facebook outage, news of a possible data breach that could possibly affect 1.5 billion users has been circulating.

Facebook down: Over 1 billion users affected by massive outage amid ‘data breach’ – Irish Mirror.

It is alleged that the Facebook outage was due to a deliberate shut down of the systems to prevent the data breach from escalating further. A lot of people have foregone using passwords to log in to websites in favour of using their Facebook accounts to sign in to and create new accounts. This convenient option makes them vulnerable to phishing and hacking attacks. Some of the information leaked are users’ name, email, phone number, location, gender and user ID.

Since the Facebook outage, security professionals have suggested resetting or changing your passwords on the affected accounts or investing in a reputable password manager like Dashlane.

See privacyaffairs.com reports “Web Scrapers Claim to Possess and Sell Personal Data on 1.5 Billion Facebook Users on a Hacker Forum

Telegram gains new users

Immediately after the Facebook outage, users started flocking to other social media networks to get their fix. Telegram, which was touted as a direct competitor to WhatsApp was swarmed with new users. Existing telegram users would have received notifications throughout the day of friends and colleagues joining Telegram. If these new users actually stay on and continue using telegram, only time will tell.

Tampering of Facebook algorithm

This has not been a good week for Facebook as allegations have surfaced around its algorithm. Conspiracy theorists have always made claims about Facebook’s algorithm. This time the information came from a former Facebook employee. Facebook is being accused of subjecting its users’ to negative news no matter the consequences. Its own internal research has shown that users stay on the site longer when shown negative posts.

Facebook and the Myanmar Rohingya crisis

Facebook has been accused of contributing to the Myanmar Rohingya crisis. Even though the company is not an active participant, the accusations focus on the fact that it can do more to filter out hate speech. Facebook is being used to whip up hate in this predominantly Buddhist country against the minority Muslim Rohingya.

Facebook has also been named in the recent January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol Building in the US. It was used by organisers to orchestrate the event, that is sometimes referred to as an attempted coup. These two examples show how Facebook allows its platform to be used in a negative way.

Why would Facebook want to do this? According to security analysts, money is the reason. They claim that the longer users stay on the site, the better reports would look to investors and shareholders. As a result, more money can be made from advertisers.

Facebook antitrust allegations

Facebook has been under fire in recent times, comparisons have been made between it and Microsoft. In 1998, Microsoft faced antitrust charges, it was accused of trying to create a monopoly by giving away its browser for free and leading to the collapse of Netscape.

Microsoft was then sued by the United States Department of Justice, and was found to have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. It was then ordered to be split into 2 separate companies.

There is no arguing the power wielded by Facebook, and the role it plays in delivering news, marketing and just keeping up with friends and family. The consolidation of rivals WhatsApp and Instagram has given Facebook even greater power. That is why after the last data breach and Cambridge Analytica scandals, there were calls for Facebook to rein in.

Facebook dependency

Facebook may be too big to fail, not saying that it can’t fail, but if it does it may be a disaster. Many creators depend on Facebook to make a living. Many businesses both large and small depend on Facebook to reach their prospective customers. Most people have become dependent on Facebook in some way even if it is just for entertainment.

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