On Monday, Facebook and its associated social media sites including Instagram and WhatsApp went down for about six hours. The outage came at a time when news was circulating about a whistleblower who worked for Facebook revealing that the company put profits over public good by allowing misinformation, hate, and violence to spread on its platform. The whistleblower, 37-year-old Frances Haugen, released tens of thousands of pages of internal documents showing that Facebook knew about the company benefiting from these negative effects on society, but covered the whole thing up. Haugen told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “the thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook, and Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.” Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp not working yesterday is supposedly unrelated to the bombshell report, but the timing is leaving many suspicious. Facebook’s Vice President of Infrastructure Santosh Janardhan said the outage was due to “configuration changes on the backbone routers.” But skeptics believe the sites were brought down specifically to prevent information about the leaked documents from spreading on its platform. If there is a connection it remains unproven, but perhaps there will be more to learn about these two stories and a possible link between them in the coming days.
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