Zuckerberg's bad day after Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram go down: All you need to know

Company stocks also went down on Monday, and a whistle-blower is testifying before US Congress on Tuesday

Facebook was grappling with multiple crises on Monday after a whistle-blower accused it of prioritising profit over safety and a massive outage left millions of users without access to the world’s biggest social media platform and its affiliated apps and services.

Compounding the company’s woes, its share price dropped nearly five per cent amid a broader tech sell off, wiping billions of dollars off CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth.

With some 2.7 billion users, the effects of the outage were felt quickly and widely, particularly for those who have come to rely on Facebook-owned messaging services.

Here's what you need to know about Mr Zuckerberg's rough week so far, keeping in mind that it is only Monday:

Widespread panic

It wasn't just Facebook that was down. All of its other services, from Instagram to WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger, were offline for more than five hours on Monday. Service began to return on Monday evening.

Problems for Facebook and its affiliated apps started just before noon New York time. There were also reports that its work-orientated platform, Workplace, was down too. The company is solely dependent on the platform, leaving staff virtually unable to work.

Hear the whistle blowing

The outage came the day after a Facebook whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, revealed herself on national US television on Sunday evening.

Ms Haugen, who began working for the social site in 2019 and resigned in April 2021, leaked internal documents to The Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress and other news outlets.

The documents reveal that the social network knows about the damages it brings to certain populations and demographics.

The documents claim Facebook has opted to focus on profit before fixing those issues, which range from hate speech to posts inciting violence, and mental health dangers for teenage users.

“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Ms Haugen told CBS News's 60 Minutes on Sunday evening.

“Facebook over and over again chose to optimise for its own interests, like making more money.”

Ms Haugen is also due to testify before a Senate commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, where she will claim Facebook is operating with no oversight.

The committee met last week and heard testimony from Facebook's head of global security, Antigone Davis, who said that Instagram was not harmful to teens.

"When we realised tobacco companies were hiding the harms it caused, the government took action," Ms Haugen's prepared testimony says, according to Reuters.

"When we figured out cars were safer with seatbelts, the government took action. I implore you to do the same here."

The company is also facing federal challenges and anti-trust cases in claims of monopolisation, from the Federal Trade Commission and US legislators in Washington.

"This is just the latest in a series of revelations about social media platforms that make clear that self-regulation is not working," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Ms Psaki said President Joe Biden and his administration would support "fundamental reforms [and] efforts to address these issues".

The harder they fall

The crises over Sunday and Monday are also hitting Facebook's pocket.

Facebook is financially known as the fifth most valuable company, according to Reuters, and the company's stock has declined about 5 per cent on Monday.

Mr Zuckerberg may have lost at least $7 billion in net worth with the stock decline, making him fall in a global ranking of billionaires, Bloomberg News reported.

Why was Facebook down?

Explained: Why did WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram go down?

Facebook blamed a "faulty configuration change" for the outage.

Facebook's vice president of infrastructure Santosh Janardhan apologised on Tuesday morning.

"To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage across our platforms. We’ve been working as hard as we can to restore access, and our systems are now back up and running," he posted on Facebook.

"Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt."

"Our services are now back online and we’re actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change."

Mr Janardhan added that Facebook had no evidence of user data being compromised during the downtime.

The outage prompted a flurry of memes on Twitter, with many users drawing on the viral Netflix show Squid Game for inspiration.

Updated: October 5th 2021, 12:07 PM
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