Whatsapp with that?

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp threw the world into a six-hour black hole last Monday morning (and again this past Friday) when the sites unexpectedly went offline. How will I find out what my crush had for breakfast this morning?!

Facebook’s VP of Infrastructure, Santosh Janardhan blamed the crash on “configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication.”, according to the website. Huh?

He also assured the app’s billions of users that, “We want to make clear that there was no malicious activity behind this outage” and “We also have no evidence that user data was compromised.” 

But the timing of the outage – just one day after the airing of an episode of 60 minutes featuring whistleblower Frances Haugen exposing the conglomerate for, “setting up a system of incentives that are pulling people apart”- has some users speculating that the interruption was more than just a fluke.

The former Facebook product manager testified before Congress that she believes the company has no intentions of preventing the younger generation from being vulnerable to misinformation, as well as continuing to expose them to dangerously addictive features. She claims that Facebook will do whatever it takes to ensure the attraction of new users and to keep and increase engagement.

“The way they’ll do that is by making sure that children establish habits before they have good self-regulation,” Haugen said. 

She also compared social media usage to cigarettes, referencing research that suggests young girls have said they “can’t stop” using Instagram even though it makes them “feel bad”.

In a Tuesday evening post, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared with the world a message he had written to staff following the allegations. He reiterated that the outage was an unfortunate system failure and completely unrelated to Haugen’s testimony. He also says that contrary to her claims, the research shows that Instagram helps, not hinders, struggling teens battling a variety of mental health issues. 

“Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people,” he wrote. 

Reactions to the post were mixed, some praising the platform for its positive contributions and others expressing skepticism.

“CAN WE GET THIS POST FACT CHECKED PLEASE??,” one user responded.

“I love Facebook and really appreciate the opportunity you give us all,” said another. 

In a Wall Street Journal series, Haugen insists she is not out to sabotage Facebook or to cause public hatred towards the platform. She hopes to motivate the company to prevent the spread of political misinformation, enact effective policies to protect children, and prioritize national security. She wants Facebook to hold itself accountable for what they claim to do – value social responsibility over profits. 

Facebook maintained, in a series of diligent updates on the ever-reliable Twitter – our involuntary social media withdrawal can be blamed on network issues. What do you think?

In the meantime, we’ll be turning to Snapchat to comfort us during our separation anxiety! 

Angela Caico

Angela is a full-time Journalism major at Buffalo State College. When she's not working as an Uber driver, she loves hanging out with her teenage daughter, cruising around the city in her Jeep Wrangler, or drinking wine with her friends. She likes to try out a new restaurant each week (open to suggestions!) and has a crazy obsession with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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