The collapse of Facebook Inc revealed. Around the world has reported the dangers of relying on its social networking products, bolstering European regulators’ campaign to contain its spread completely and US whistleblower testimony threatens to attract more unwanted scrutiny at home.
As Europe woke up to find Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger services once again online, the scale of Monday’s blackout quickly led to criticism. The EU’s antitrust chief and digital czar, Margrethe Vestager, said Facebook’s failure would focus minds on the company’s dominance.
“It is always important for people to have alternatives and choices. This is why we work to keep digital markets fair and competitive,” Vestager said. “The interruption as we have seen shows that it is never a good idea to rely only on a few great players, no matter who they are.”
The networking problem that disrupted services used by more than 2.75 billion people couldn’t have come at a worse time. After a US television interview on Sunday, whistleblower Frances Hogan will appear before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday and tell lawmakers what she calls the “scary truth” about Facebook. Haugen’s accusations that the company prioritizes profit over user safety continued to make headlines as Facebook’s services declined.
These discoveries prompted US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to highlight the risks faced by countries that depend on telecommunications services.
Facebook rose as much as 1.3% to $330.33 in New York, trimming 4.9% of the slump on Monday.
Facebook already faces several antitrust and privacy investigations across Europe as well as intense scrutiny of even small deals, such as a planned acquisition of a customer service software provider. The company was fined 225 million euros ($261 million) last month over WhatsApp data failures and faces separate antitrust investigations from the European Commission and German competition watchdog Bundeskartellamt.
EU lawmakers will vote in the coming months on new laws that will limit the ability of powerful internet platforms like Facebook to expand into new services. Rasmus Andersen, a member of the European Parliament in the European Parliament, said the disruption to services showed “serious consequences” of relying on a single company for key communication channels, and that Facebook was not supposed to be allowed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Everyone in the European Union as well as in the United States should realize now at the latest that we need strong regulations against quasi-monolitons,” Anderson said in a statement. “We need close transatlantic cooperation.”
The event sparked calls for a new digital “order” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man who does not tolerate political criticism on social media. Fahrettin Altun, director of presidential communications, said the hours-long shutdown demonstrated the “fragility” of social networks, and urged the rapid development of “local and national” alternatives. “The problem we saw showed us how at risk our data is, and how quickly and easily our social freedoms are restricted,” Alton said in a series of Twitter posts.
The turmoil was welcomed by the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, with lawmaker Beatrix von Storch saying she hoped the contenders would benefit.
In Nigeria, a power outage silenced President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications team, government officials and governors in 36 states for six hours. The government has increasingly relied on Facebook to inform the public after the ban on Twitter services 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-owned media have lamented the company’s unreliability during their campaign against Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Facebook “for us opposition politicians is one of the last media where we can talk to you that is not completely dominated by us” Fides, Orbán’s political party, said in a video posted on Tuesday, Budapest’s mayor, Girgili Karaksoni, said in a video posted on Tuesday. He said the platform’s problems threaten the ability to disseminate information.
The power outage has forced some phone companies to take action. The Polish Play unit of Paris-based telecommunications company Iliad SA recorded an eightfold increase in the number of calls to customer service between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. local time, it said in a blog post on its website. She had to reconfigure her network to prevent overloading.
“This outage shows our over-reliance on one company, the need for diversity and greater competition,” Jim Kellock, executive director of the London-based Open Rights Group, said in an interview. “Their reliance on data-driven products that improve attention is dangerous and needs to be challenged with interventions that allow for greater competition.”