Facebook has said there was ‘no malicious activity’ behind a seven-hour blackout that cost the company an estimated $100million in lost revenue, which experts and insiders say was exacerbated by remote working policies.
The crisis came on a week of cascading disasters for Facebook, as a whistleblower testified before Congress slamming the company’s artificial intelligence content algorithms as harmful and divisive.
The company quietly updated a prior blog post on Tuesday to say that there was no malicious intent behind the historic outage, meaning that an employee error is most likely to blame.
It is believed that a faulty update to Facebook’s Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which routes traffic between large private networks and the public Internet, left apps and browsers unable to locate the company’s services.
The global outage – which hit Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger on Monday – was caused when the faulty configuration disconnected its servers from the internet, meaning engineers had to travel to its Santa Clara data center to fix the glitch in-person.
But the repair was delayed, according a purported insider, because of ‘lower staffing in data centers due to pandemic measures’, along with outages in physical access card systems and internal messaging services.
Kieron Harding, an IT Infrastructure Engineer at GRC International Group, told DailyMail.com: ‘The nature of the problem meant Facebook would have needed network engineers to physically access their BGP routers – and due to the pandemic, some of the data centers quite possibly don’t have an engineer based on site, or someone who could have immediately started to work on the problem.’
‘One of the reasons why the outage lasted for as long as it did was because the misconfiguration of the BGP also affected Facebook’s physical door access systems – which shut down; meaning engineers couldn’t get into the buildings, or secure rooms, to start fixing the issues straightaway,’ said Harding.
Ramesh Srinivasan, a professor at UCLA’s Department of Information Studies and expert on the relationship between technology and society, told DailyMail.com that both Facebook’s outage and the damaging whistleblower revelations only served to underline the need for heightened government regulations.
‘Just as Facebook is opaque about its internal practices, it’s also pretty opaque when it comes to how its underlying server architecture works,’ said Srinivasan.
He said that companies like Facebook ‘extract our attention, our outage, our negative sentiments into trillion dollar valuations,’ calling it ‘a mechanism of tearing us apart at the seams.’
‘Look at how incredibly dependent we are as a country, as a world…on Facebook, and more largely on corporate, private, self-serving technology,’ he added. ‘Look at the blind dependence we have given, and the unjustified faith we have put in, some of the wealthiest companies in the history of the world.’
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen above in July. Facebook has said there was ‘no malicious activity’ behind a seven-hour blackout that cost the company an estimated $100million in lost revenue
Facebook operates dozens of offices and data centers around the US. Monday’s outage reportedly knocked out physical access to the company’s facilities when key card systems went offline
Outage highlights world’s reliance on Facebook services
Small business owners have become especially reliant on Facebook, and the outage left many in a jam.
‘We heavily rely on our social media to make announcements, to run promotions and to actually get a lot of online ordering,’ Tommy Nguyen, the owner of Cross Street fried chicken in San Diego, told KGTV.
Internationally, WhatsApp is the de facto voice and text communication service for billions, and the breakdown left many at a loss.
In Brazil, the messaging service is by far the most widely used app in the country, installed on 99 percent of smartphones, according to tech pollster Mobile Time.
WhatsApp has become essential in Brazil to communicate with friends and family, as well as for a variety of other tasks, such as ordering food. Offices, various services and even the courts had trouble making appointments, and phone lines became overwhelmed.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in their homeland and abroad fretted over the WhatsApp outage.
Many of the country’s more than 11 million people depend it to alert one another about gang violence in particular neighborhoods or to talk to relatives in the U.S. about money transfers and other important matters.
Millions of Africans also use WhatsApp for all their voice calls.
While the massive outage on Monday might have been only a minor annoyance for casual Facebook users, it was a grave concern to the countless small businesses that rely on the platform and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as vital channels to communicate with customers.
Facebook is also used to log in to many other apps and services, leading to unexpected issues accessing shopping accounts, dating apps, smart home devices, and a wide range of other services.
For Facebook employees themselves, the situation was dire. Striking just after 8.30am in California, the outage left employees arriving at the Menlo Park headquarters locked out as the company’s access card system went down, according to multiple reports.
For the roughly three-quarters of Facebook employees working remotely, the company’s internal messaging system Workplace was also knocked offline by the outage, leaving a skeleton crew at the company’s main Santa Clara data center cut off from assistance as they raced to debug the network servers.
Teams dispatched to the main data center also reportedly had difficulty accessing secure rooms to revert faulty configurations on key systems.
Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society, said in a tweet: ‘Facebook basically locked its keys in its car.’
Facebook’s outage also brought down messaging services that remote-working staff use to communicate, so those who knew how to fix the servers couldn’t get that information to the teams inside the data-center, the insider said.
‘There are people now trying to gain access to… implement fixes, but the people with physical access is separate from the people with knowledge of how to authenticate the systems and people who know what to actually do, so there is now a logistical challenge,’ the purported insider said on Reddit.
Industry sources who have worked closely with the tech giant say Facebook is suffering from two major problems: Staff working from home and over reliance on artificial intelligence.
The social media site has been beset by bugs, glitches and AI issues for months – exacerbated by staff not being on premises to deal with or correct issues.
One source said that Facebook is simply unprepared to deal with emergencies and ‘is very weak on the technical side’. Another added Facebook is currently ‘a shambles’ and has been beset with tech problems ‘for months’.
They added: ‘They think they can do everything with AI – but their tech isn’t up to scratch. I’m inclined to think it’s because they’re WFH.’
Monday’s outage was partly to blame for a nose-dive in Facebook’s share price that saw $47billion wiped from its market value in its second-worst day ever on the stock market, also driven by a whistleblower testifying about the harms the site does to teenagers in Congress this week.
Facebook shares rebounded on Tuesday, rising 2.3 percent in midday trading.
In addition to the stock market slide during the outage, Facebook likely missed out on at least $67million in direct revenue and possibly as much as $102million during the outage – based on average hourly earnings across 2020 and projections of its 2021 hourly earnings from Q1 and Q2 results.
A person claiming to be a Facebook employee said on Reddit that high numbers of staff working from home made the problem worse. The account was later deleted
Users around the world reported problems with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp on Downdetector
Mark Zuckerberg – who lost around $7billion in stock value amidst the carnage – has previously vowed to make work from home a permanent part of Facebook, telling staff back in June that ‘anyone whose role can be done remotely can request remote work.’
The multi-billionaire said he plans to spend around half his time working remotely in 2022, and predicted that half of his staff could be permanently off-site by 2030.
Facebook’s office are currently open but only to 25 per cent capacity, after plans to open fully by October were pushed back to at least January 2022 amid the spread of the Delta Covid variant.
Of the staff who are not currently in the office, it is not clear how many will become permanent remote workers.
But a Facebook executive previously told the Wall Street Journal that the company has approved 90 per cent of WFH requests. The only caveat is that salaries may be cut to reflect the locations where people are actually working, as opposed to where the office is based.
Data centre staff are among those who cannot request a permanent remote working status.
Facebook’s problems began around midday Eastern Time (5pm GMT) on Monday, shortly after its servers were updated, and lasted until around 5.45pm (10.45pm GMT) when the servers came back online. It took several more hours for all users to be able to access Facebook’s sites and apps.
Following Monday’s outage, Zuckerberg issued a personal apology to Facebook users – telling them ‘sorry for the disruption’ while adding: ‘I know how much you rely on our services.’
But his message was immediately attacked from all sides, with those who use Facebook business saying he failed to take the issue seriously while casual users accused him of ‘making yourself more important than you are’.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey appeared to make light of Facebook’s plight on Monday. Responding to a post which appeared to show how the facebook.com domain is for sale as a result of the outage, he jokingly asked: ‘How much?’
A Facebook staff member reportedly accidentally deleted large sections of the code (pictured) which keeps the website online
Facebook shares plunged on Monday but recovered some of the losses on Tuesday
Still others said they had enjoyed the outage, and were planning to spend more time off social media in the future. ‘Life was way simpler without these services,’ wrote one.
John Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer of web security firm Cloudflare, said Facebook made a series of updates to its border gateway protocol (BGP) which caused it to ‘disappear’ from the internet.
The BGP allows for the exchange of routing information on the internet and takes people to the websites they want to access.
Dane Knecht, senior vice president of the firm, said earlier the Facebook Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes had been ‘withdrawn from the internet.’
Cybersecurity expert, Kevin Beaumont, wrote on Twitter: ‘This one looks like a pretty epic configuration error, Facebook basically don’t exist on the internet right now. Even their authoritative name server ranges have been BGP withdrawn.’
WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, run on a shared back-end infrastructure, creating a ‘single point of failure’ according to experts.
It wasn’t just the main Facebook apps going down, other services, including Facebook Workplace and the Oculus website were also down.
The EU’s competition commissioner said it shows why large tech firms should be broken up to avoid a similar failure of multiple platforms at once.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the incident highlighted the negative impact of big tech firms controlling large swathes of the online world.
‘We need alternatives and choices in the tech market, and must not rely on a few big players, whoever they are,’ she wrote on Twitter.
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were all brought down for almost seven hours yesterday in a massive global outage. The US tech giant said the problem was caused by a faulty update that was sent to its core servers, which effectively disconnected them from the internet
The dominance of a handful of large social media and internet companies has come under scrutiny from competition watchdogs on a number of issues, with many campaigners in the UK, Europe and US urging governments and regulators to take steps to break up larger firms to prevent monopolies being created.
IT experts have also called on the tech industry to come up with better systems to prevent a single error from having such a wide impact.
Ms Vestager, who is also the European Commission’s executive vice-president for a Europe fit for the digital age, added that the incident showed it was also sometimes good to step away from social media and talk to people ‘offline’.
Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, offered his ‘sincere apologies’ for the outage on Monday afternoon. The scandal-hit company’s shares had dipped by 5 percent on Monday amid the outage and after a whistleblower went public on Sunday night with claims that the firm prioritises ‘growth over safety’.
There have been a number of social media outages in recent months, with Instagram going down for 16 hours just last month, and all Facebook platforms going offline in June.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey appeared to make light of Facebook’s plight on Monday. Responding to a post which appeared to show how the facebook.com domain is for sale as a result of the outage, he jokingly asked: ‘How much?’
The cause of the outage remains unconfirmed and it’s unclear if all are linked but not long before Facebook’s entities went down, entries for Facebook and Instagram were removed from the Domain Name System (DNS) it uses.
A DNS is essentially an internet directory. Whenever someone opens a link or an app, their device has to search the DNS used by the service they are trying to access to find it and then connect them to it.
Major DNS providers are Google, Amazon and Cloudflare. It’s unclear if all of the sites and services that went down on Monday use the same DNS or not.
A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies Inc took down multiple websites in July.
Cloudflare’s Mr Graham-Cumming tweeted on Monday that Facebook accidentally ‘disappeared’ from the internet after making a ‘flurry’ of updates to its BGP – Border Gateway Protocol.
‘Between 15:50 UTC and 15:52 UTC [4.50-4.52pm UK time] Facebook and related properties disappeared from the Internet in a flurry of BGP updates,’ he said.
When sites go down because of failures in DNS systems, CloudFare tries to repair them.
Usman Muzaffar, SVP of engineering at Cloudflare, explained to DailyMail.com: ‘Humans access information online through domain names, like facebook.com and DNS converts it into numbers, called an IP address, computers use.
WHAT IS THE DOMAIN NAME SYSTEM AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Domain Name System, or DNS, is the directory of the internet.
Whenever you click on a link, send an email, open a mobile app, often one of the first things that has to happen is your device needs to look up the address of a domain.
There are two sides of the DNS network: the authoritative side, ie webpages and other content, and the resolver side, devices that are trying to access this content.
Every domain needs to have an authoritative DNS provider, servers which store DNS records. Amazon, Cloudflare and Google are among the bigger names in authoritative DNS server provision.
On the other side of the DNS system are resolvers. Every device that connects to the Internet needs a DNS resolver.
By default, these resolvers are automatically set by whatever network you’re connecting to.
So, for most Internet users, when they connect to an ISP, or a WiFi hot spot, or a mobile network, the network operator will dictate what DNS resolver to use.
The problem is that these DNS services are often slow and don’t respect your privacy.
What many Internet users don’t realise is that even if you’re visiting a website that is encrypted, indicated by the green padlock in your browser’s address bar, that doesn’t keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit.
That means, by default, your ISP, every WiFi network you’ve connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you’ve visited while using them.
‘From what we understand of the actual issue —it is a globalized BGP configuration issue. In our experience, these usually are mistakes, not attacks.
‘Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is the routing protocol for the Internet. Much like the post office processing mail, BGP picks the most efficient routes for delivering Internet traffic.
‘Today, the directions for how to get to Facebook’s DNS server’s addresses weren’t available (and seem to still be unavailable). Without being able to contact the DNS servers, visitors trying to reach a Facebook property, like facebook.com, will not get an answer and so the page won’t load.’
According to Reuters news agency, security experts tracking the situation said the outage could have been triggered by a configuration error, which could be the result of an internal mistake, though sabotage by an insider would be theoretically possible.
An outside hack was viewed as less likely. A massive denial-of-service attack that could overwhelm one of the world’s most popular sites, on the other hand, would require either coordination among powerful criminal groups or a very innovative technique.
Shares of Facebook, which has nearly 2 billion daily active users, fell 5.5 per cent in afternoon trading on Monday, inching towards its worst day in nearly a year.
It means that the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg – who owns around 14 per cent of the firm – has seen his wealth plummet by nearly $7billion in a matter of hours, Bloomberg reported.
Some users of UK phone network EE were also reporting that they were having difficulty accessing mobile internet services. However, the firm told MailOnline that there were no problems with the network.
Cyber security specialist Jake Moore said there is a ‘chance’ the issue affecting the firms could be related to a cyber attack.
He said: ‘There have been many reports and I’m struggling to find out exactly what has happened- I’m reading it could be DNS related, which means there is an issue with the connection not knowing where to go to your device.
‘It could well be a human error or a software bug lurking in the shadows but whatever it is Facebook needs to do its best to mitigate the problem of causing more panic about this.
‘The biggest problem is fears over a cyber attack but as we saw from Fastly in the summer I would hedge my bets on that not being the case as we’re talking about one of the biggest companies in the world, but there’s always a chance.’
Apologising on Twitter for the outage, Mr Schroepfer said: *’Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now. We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.’
Facebook was already in the throes of a separate major crisis after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, provided The Wall Street Journal with internal documents that exposed the company’s awareness of harms caused by its products and decisions.
Haugen went public on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program Sunday and is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday.
Haugen had also anonymously filed complaints with federal law enforcement alleging Facebook’s own research shows how it magnifies hate and misinformation and leads to increased polarization. It also showed that the company was aware that Instagram can harm teenage girls’ mental health.
The Journal’s stories, called ‘The Facebook Files,’ painted a picture of a company focused on growth and its own interests over the public good. Facebook has tried to play down the research.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of policy and public affairs, wrote to Facebook employees in a memo Friday that ‘social media has had a big impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate plays out.’
Earlier on Twitter, Facebook communications executive, Andy Stone said they were aware some people were having trouble accessing Facebook apps and products.
‘We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,’ the executive said in a tweet.
Soon after the first report came through, the hashtag #facebookdown was trending on Twitter, with users worldwide reporting issues connecting.
The hashtag #instagramisdown and ‘WhatsApp’ were both also trending on Twitter, with a number of users saying they checked their internet connection when they couldn’t get on Facebook.
Instagram comms tweeted: ‘Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we’re on it!’
NetBlocks, which tracks internet outages, tweeted: ‘Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger are currently experiencing outages in multiple countries’
They’re some of the most popular social media apps around the world, but it appears that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have all crashed this afternoon. Above: The reports of Facebook outages reported on DownDetector
Down Detector also showed how problems with Whatsapp began being reported just before 5pm on Monday
RECENT FACEBOOK OUTAGES
Last month, a technical issue with Facebook owned Instagram caused an outage that plagued users around the world for 16 hours.
Problems started just after 8am on Thursday. About 18 hours later, at 2am on Friday, Instagram announced the problem had been fixed.
However, the last time Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down at the same time was in June.
In June more than a thousand people in countries including the United States, Morocco, Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil reported outages.
There were also two Facebook platform outages in March, with Instagram down on March 30, and all three down on March 19.
WhatsApp tweeted: ‘We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment. We’re working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience!’
Even Oculus, the virtual reality gaming platform owned by Facebook was having problems, with one user describing their headset as being ‘like a paperweight’.
Oculus tweeted: ‘We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.’
Every time Facebook and Instagram are down, it draws people to Twitter.
On Monday, one user shared a meme of Homer Simpson jumping from his house to Moe’s bar, with the Twitter logo over the door.
Even Google got in on the action, tweeting: ‘Everyone going to Google to check if Instagram is down.’
There were multiple jokes along the same lines, with one showing a fast track race and the caption: ‘Me and my friends running to twitter to see if fb, whatsapp and insta are down.’
It is unclear what has caused the issue, although it has disrupted all Facebook owned platforms, including the Oculus Virtual Reality gaming website and Facebook Workplace.
NetBlocks, which tracks internet outages, tweeted: ‘Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger are currently experiencing outages in multiple countries.’
Adding that the ‘incident not related to country-level internet disruptions or filtering.’
When attempting to visit Instagram using a desktop web browser, it gives up a ‘5xx Server Error’ and Facebook simply says ‘this site can’t be reached.’
The last major outage of Facebook platforms was in June 2021, when people in the US, Morocco, Mexico and Brazil all reported not being able to connect.
However, there were also problems last month, when Instagram went down for a whopping 16 hours.
Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET said outages are increasing in volume and are becoming increasingly harder to predict.
He said initially, a major problem with a website or app can point towards a cyber attack – but that can add to confusion and be misleading.
‘With recent issues such as what happened with Fastly [the web service platform that saw a major global outage on June 8] it highlights the power of an undiscovered software bug or even human error,’ Moore explained.
‘Although these are increasing in frequency and require more failsafes in place, predicting these issues is increasingly more difficult as it was never thought possible before. Luckily, most outages only last under an hour.’
This latest outage highlights the major issues with using centralised systems, according to Matthew Hodgson, Co-founder and CEO of Element and Technical Co-founder of Matrix.
‘The ongoing outage of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook (including Facebook Messenger and Facebook Workplace) highlights that global outages are one of the major downsides of a centralised system,’ he said.
Centralised apps, like having a single back end for Facebook products, means putting ‘all the eggs in one basket,’ Hodgson explained.
‘Decentralised systems are far more reliable. There’s no single point of failure so they can withstand significant disruption and still keep people and businesses communicating.’
‘The buck stops with Mark’: Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen tears into Zuckerberg for ‘putting astronomical profits before people’ and insists he KNOWS site harms children and ‘leads to violence’ in blistering Senate hearing
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is urging Congress on Tuesday to regulate social media, saying the sites are a threat to children and democracy and even lead to violence – while founder Mark Zuckerberg spends the day sailing.
The former employee, who worked for the tech giant in its misinformation department, told a Senate Commerce subcommittee that Facebook’s bosses ‘put their astronomical profits before people.’
Speaking to Senators on Tuesday, she celebrated a massive outage that hit Facebook and its related sites the day before.
‘Yesterday we saw Facebook get taken off the internet. I don’t know why it went down, but I do know for more than five hours, Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.’
Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday
During the hearing Haugen told senators that no similar company’s CEO has as much unilateral control as Zuckerberg does.
‘Mark holds a very unique role in the tech industry in that he holds over 55% of all the voting shares for Facebook. There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled,’ she said. ‘There’s no one currently holding him accountable but himself.’
She said ‘the buck stops with’ Facebook’s tech billionaire owner, adding that ‘Facebook needs to take responsibility for the consequences of its choices.’
Later in the hearing Haugan said Zuckerberg himself even made choices that put engagement over public safety.
‘We have a few choice documents that contain notes from briefings with Mark Zuckerberg where he chose metrics defined by Facebook like ‘meaningful social interactions’ over changes that would have significantly decreased misinformation, hate speech and other inciting content,’ she told Senator Ben Ray Lujan.
Senator Ed Markey lauded Haugan as a ‘Twenty-first century American hero’ for speaking out against the social media giant.
He also accused Facebook of being built on ‘computer codes of misconduct.’
‘Time and time again Facebook says one thing and does another. Time and time again Facebook fails to abide by the commitments that they had made. Time and time again, Facebook lies about what they are doing,’ he said.
‘Facebook’s platforms are not safe for young people, as you said Facebook is like big tobacco, enticing young kids with that first cigarette…whistleblowing shows that Facebook uses harmful features.’
He directed a message straight at the absent Zuckerberg: ‘Your time of invading privacy, promoting toxic content, and preying on children and teens is over. Congress will be taking action. You can work with us, or not work with us, but we will not allow your company to harm our children and our families and out democracy any longer’
Speaking to Senators on Tuesday, Haugan celebrated a massive outage that hit Facebook and its related sites the day before
Senator Ed Markey directed a message at Zuckerberg: ‘Your time of invading privacy, promoting toxic content, and preying on children and teens is over. Congress will be taking action’
At another point in the hearing Haugan was asked by Senator Dan Sullivan about what perspective people will have on Facebook years from now.
She answered: ‘When Facebook has made statements in the past about how much benefit Instagram is providing to kids’ mental health, like kids are connecting who were once alone, what I’m so surprised about that is – if Instagram is such a positive force, have we seen a golden age of teenage mental health in the last 10 years? No, we’ve seen escalating rates of depression and suicide among teenagers.’
Haugen added that the use of social media ‘amplified’ the risk of that, attributing it to Facebook’s own research.
The whistleblower acknowledged that the site’s mounting problems could be too large for it to handle on its own.
‘You can declare moral bankruptcy and we can figure out how to fix these things together, because we solve problems together and we don’t solve them alone,’ she said.
She suggested Facebook’s self-created burden could have gotten so large that they simply didn’t know what to do with it.
‘Facebook is stuck in a feedback loop they cannot get out of. They have been hiding this information because they feel trapped. Like, they would have come forward if they had solutions to these things. They need to admit they did something wrong, and that they need help to solve these problems.’
But she also doubted that Facebook’s lack of solutions came from a lack of ‘private research’ as an executive once said.
‘If they make $40 billion per year, they have the resources to solve these problems, they’re choosing not to solve them,’ she told Senator Rick Scott.
She also said Facebook had done too little to prevent its platform from being used by people planning violence.
‘The result has been a system that amplifies division, extremism, and polarization’ and undermining societies around the world. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people,’ she said.
Haugen told Republican Senator Mike Lee that Facebook’s artificial intelligence systems designed to filter out harmful content were relatively ineffective at catching hate speech – and even sometimes allowed drug-related content to get to kids.
‘The reality is that we’ve seen from repeated documents within my disclosures, is that Facebook’s AI systems only catch a very tiny minority of offending content. And best case scenario, and the case of something like hate speech, at most they will ever get 10 to 20 percent. In the case of children, that means drug paraphernalia ads like that, it’s likely if they rely on computers and not humans, they will also likely never get more than 10 to 20 percent of those ads,’ she said.
A Facebook executive went after Haugen during the hearing, pointing out that she did not work on the child safety data she was testifying on at the hearing.
‘Just pointing out the fact that @FrancesHaugen did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook,’ Policy Communications Director Andy Stone wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
Haugan has said multiple times during the hearing that she didn’t work in child safety but claimed the documents she viewed and leaked were available to all staff.
Facebook was used by people planning mass killings in Myanmar and in the Jan. 6 assault by Trump supporters who were determined to toss out the 2020 election results.
After the November election, Facebook dissolved the civic integrity union where Haugen had been working. That, she said, was the moment she realized ‘I don´t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.’
Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen arrives to testify during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday
Haugan was greeted by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Amy Klobuchar when she arrived for her testimony
Subcommittee chairman Senator Richard Blumenthal criticized Facebook’s founder in his opening statement on Tuesday morning.
‘Mark Zuckerberg ought to be looking at himself in the mirror today,’ the Connecticut Democrat said. ‘And yet rather than taking responsibility and showing leadership, Mr. Zuckerberg is going sailing.’
Blumenthal called on him to testify on the damning research Haugen uncovered.
‘Mark Zuckerberg you need to come before this committee, you need to explain to Frances Hougan, to us, to the world, and to the parents of America – what you were doing and why you did it.’
He said Facebook was facing a ‘big tobacco moment’ in the country’s reckoning over its impact on a generation of young people, slamming the company as ‘morally bankrupt.’
‘The damage to self interest and self worth inflicted by Facebook today will haunt a generation,’ Blumenthal said. ‘Feelings of inadequacy, and insecurity, rejection and self hatred will impact this generation for years to come.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is on the subcommittee, asked Haugen if the site removed safeguards against misinformation it had implemented for the election before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump because it cost the company money.
Haugen said the social media giant knew the content that was being shared was ‘dangerous’ before they increased site security but dropped those standards for the sake of ‘growth.’
‘Facebook has been emphasizing a false choice. They’ve said the safeguards that were in place before the election implicated free speech. The choices that were happening on the platform were really about how reactive and twitchy was the platform.’
Haugen suggested a government entity be created to regulate Facebook during the scathing Senate hearing on Tuesday
Ranking member Senator Marsha Blackburn and Chairman Richard Blumenthal look on as Haugen testifies
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are out sailing today. Senators criticized the tech billionaire for hitting the waves instead of attending the Senate hearing
Another image from Mark Zuckerberg’s sailing trip captured by the tech billionaire
FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER FRANCES HAUGEN’S SEARING ATTACKS ON ZUCKERBERG AND EXECS
‘I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.’
‘For more than 5 hours (on Monday), Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.’
‘I saw Facebook repeatedly encounter conflicts between its own profits and our safety. Facebook consistently resolved its conflicts in favor of its own profits. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence.’
‘Mark holds a very unique role in the tech industry in that he holds over 55% of all the voting shares for Facebook. There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled. … There’s no one currently holding him accountable but himself..’
‘Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook. The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, from the U.S. government, and from governments around the world.’
‘We can afford nothing less than full transparency. As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows and hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable. Until the incentives change, Facebook will not change. ‘
‘They want you to believe in false choices, they want you to believe you must choose between a Facebook full of divisive and extreme content or losing one of the most important values our country was founded on, free speech.’
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal
‘Their (Facebook’s) profit was more important than the pain that it caused. There is documented proof that Facebook knows its products can be addictive and toxic to children, and it is not just that they made money – it’s that they valued their more than the pain they caused to children and their families.
‘Facebook’s failure to acknowledge and to act makes it morally bankrupt. Again and again, Facebook rejected reforms recommended by its own researchers.
‘The damage to self worth, inflicted by Facebook today will haunt a generation. Feelings of inadequacy and insecurity and rejection and self-hatred will impact this generation for years.