The global crash of Facebook Inc. has exposed the risks of relying on its social media products, reinforcing European regulators’ push to contain its reach, just as testimony from a US whistleblower threatens to draw a closer examination at home.
As Europe woke up to find Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger services online, the scale of Monday’s outage quickly drew criticism. Antitrust chief and European Union digital czar Margrethe Vestager said Facebook’s failure would focus minds on the company’s dominance.
“It is always important that people have alternatives and choices. This is why we strive to keep digital markets fair and contestable,” Vestager said. “A breakdown like we’ve seen shows that it’s never good to rely on just a few big players, whoever they are.”
The networking glitch that brought down services used by more than 2.75 billion people couldn’t have come at a worse time. After an interview on US television on Sunday, whistleblower Frances Haugen will appear before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday and tell lawmakers what she calls the “chilling truth” on Facebook. Haugen’s accusations that the company prioritizes profit over user safety still made headlines as Facebook services were down.
The revelations prompted U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to highlight the risks facing countries that rely on communications services.
Facebook climbed as much as 1.3% to $330.33 in New York, wiping out a 4.9% drop on Monday.
Facebook is already the subject of numerous antitrust and privacy investigations across Europe, as well as scrutiny of even small deals, such as its planned takeover of a customer service software provider. The company was fined 225 million euros ($261 million) last month over WhatsApp data issues and faces separate antitrust investigations from the European Commission and the watchdog. German competition watchdog Bundeskartellamt.
European lawmakers will pass new laws in the coming months that would limit the ability of powerful internet platforms such as Facebook to expand into new services. The disruption of services showed the “serious consequences” of relying on one company for key communication channels, and that Facebook should never have been allowed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp, said Rasmus Andresen, Germany’s Green Member of Parliament European.
“Everyone in the European Union as well as in the United States must realize now at the latest that we need strong regulation against near-monopolies,” Andresen said in a statement. “We need close transatlantic cooperation.”
The event sparked calls for a new digital ‘order’ from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man with little tolerance for political criticism on social media. The hours-long shutdown showed how “fragile” social media is, said Fahrettin Altun, its presidential communications director, calling for rapid development of “national and national” alternatives. “The issue we saw showed us how much our data is at risk, how quickly and how easily our social freedoms can be curtailed,” Altun said in a series of Twitter posts.
The nationalist Alternative for Germany party has welcomed the disruption, with lawmaker Beatrix von Storch saying she hopes contestants benefit.
In Nigeria, the blackout silenced President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications team, government officials and governors of 36 states for six hours. The government increasingly relied on Facebook to inform the public after Twitter’s services were blocked in Africa’s most populous country on June 5. A spokesperson for the president’s office declined to comment.
Hungarian opposition politicians who use Facebook products to circumvent state media have lamented that the company cannot be counted on as they campaign against Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Facebook is “for us, political opponents, one of the last media where we can talk to you and which is not totally dominated by Fidesz, the political party of Orban, said the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony , in a video posted Tuesday. Problems with the platform threaten the ability to disseminate information, he said.
The outage forced some phone companies to take action. The Polish unit Play of the Parisian telecommunications company Iliad SA recorded an eightfold increase in the number of calls to its customer service between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. local time, it said in a blog post on its site. Internet. He had to reconfigure his network to avoid an overload.
“This outage shows the overreliance we have on one company, and the need for diversity and greater competition,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group in London. , in an interview. “Their reliance on data-driven, attention-optimizing products is dangerous and needs to be challenged with interventions that enable greater competition.”