Facebook Inc.’s global crash has exposed the risks of relying on its social networking products, intensifying the campaign by European regulators as the testimony of a U.S. whistle-blower threatens more unwanted verification at home.
When Europe woke up to find Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger services online, Monday’s level of blackouts quickly drew criticism. Margaret Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief and digital tsar, said Facebook’s failure would lead to the company’s dominance.
“It’s always important that people have options and choices. That’s why we work to keep digital markets fair and competitive, “said Westeger. “As we have seen, there is a misconception that it is never good to rely on just a few big players, no matter who they are.”
The networking problem that has reduced the services used by more than 2.755 billion people could not have come at a worse time. After a U.S. television interview on Sunday, whistle-blower Frances Hausen will appear before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday and tell lawmakers what she says is a “terrible truth” about Facebook. Hausen’s allegation that the company prioritizes profit over user safety is still making headlines as the Facebook service is shut down.
The revelations prompted U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to highlight the risks faced by countries that rely on services for communication.
Facebook rose 1.3% to 30 330.33 in New York, down 4.9% on Monday.
Facebook is already conducting numerous scrutiny and privacy investigations across Europe, as well as intensive scrutiny of small deals, such as the planned acquisition of a customer-service software provider. The company was fined 225 million euros (1 261 million) last month for failing WhatsApp data and faced separate distrust investigations by the European Commission and German competition observer Bundeskartelmt.
EU lawmakers will vote next month on a new law that would block the ability of powerful internet platforms like Facebook to expand new services. Rasmus Andresen, a German Green member of the European Parliament, said the disruption of services showed “serious consequences” of relying on a company for major communications channels and that Facebook should never have been allowed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Everyone in the European Union and the United States must now understand that we need tougher regulations against the quasi-monopoly system,” Andresen said in a statement. “We need closer transatlantic cooperation.”
The incident sparked calls for a new digital “order” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is slightly tolerant of political criticism on social media. The hour-long shutdown showed how “fragile” social networks are, said Fahretin Altun, the president’s communications director, calling for the rapid development of “domestic and national” options. “The problem we’ve seen has shown us how our data is at risk, how quickly and easily our social freedom can be limited,” Altun said in a Twitter post.
Welcoming the disruption to the Nationalist Alternative for Germany party, lawmaker Beatrix von Storch said he hoped the contestants would benefit.
In Nigeria, Blackout silenced President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications team, government officials and governors of 36 states for six hours. The government is increasingly relying on Facebook to inform the public after Twitter’s service was shut down in Africa’s most populous country on June 5. A spokesman for the president’s office declined to comment.
Hungarian opposition politicians who use Facebook products to block state-owned media have lamented that the company cannot be relied on because of its campaign against Prime Minister Victor Urban.
“Facebook is the last news medium for us opposition politicians where we can talk to you and which is not entirely affected,” Budapest Mayor Gergelli Caracasoni said in a video posted Tuesday. Problems with the platform threaten the ability to disseminate information, he said.
This disruption forced some phone companies to take action. The Polish Play Unit of Paris-based telecommunications company Iliad SA has quadrupled the number of calls to its customer service between 6:30 pm and 6:30 pm local time. It had to reconfigure its network to prevent an overload.
Jim Kilk, executive director of the Open Rights Group in London, said in an interview: “This confusion shows our over-reliance on a single company and the need for diversity and greater competition.” “Their reliance on data-driven, attention-optimizing products is dangerous and needs to be challenged through intervention to enable greater competition.”