- Facebook’s chaotic outage Monday revealed its outsized grip on users around the world.
- The next day, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified to US lawmakers after leaking internal documents.
- Here’s why the whistleblower doesn’t Facebook should be broken up.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The past two days have provided nothing but ammo for Facebook critics.
On Monday, the Big Tech giant’s vast network went dark as all Facebook-owned apps including Instagram and WhatsApp suffered from a global outage that lasted over five hours.
People around the world struggled to communicate with family members, small businesses suffered, and activists paused vital evacuation efforts. It was an unusual display of the world’s interdependence – with Facebook smack at the center.
In response, Facebook highlighted how many businesses rely on its platform, a fact that politicians have repeatedly used in antitrust arguments against the company. On the same day, Facebook asked a district court to dismiss the FTC’s antitrust complaint.
“There are serious consequences when you put so much of the content on the internet in the hands of a single company,” Morgan Wright, the Chief Security Advisor of Sentinel One, told Insider.
“Expect antitrust proceedings to use this as fodder for breaking up Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram into separate companies,” he added.
Zuckerberg’s week took another turn for the worse on Tuesday, as Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified to US lawmakers after leaking a trove of internal documents.
Her testimony shed new light on controversial business practices, including Facebook’s engagement-based algorithms and Instagram’s role in amplifying teenage eating disorders.
“Yesterday we saw Facebook get taken off the internet,” Haugen said during her opening statement. “I don’t know why it went down, but I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn’t used to deepened divides destabilize democracies, and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.”
After over an hour of testifying against Facebook, a senator asked Haugen if breaking up the tech giant would help solve any of its issues.
“I’m actually against the breaking up of Facebook,” Haugen said in response. “Right now Facebook is the internet for lots of the world … If you split Facebook and Instagram apart, it’s likely that most advertising dollars will go to Instagram.”
“Facebook will continue to be this Frankenstein that is altering and endangering lives around the world,” she continued. “Only now there won’t be money to fund it.”
Instead, Haugen said lawmakers should focus on regulatory oversight “because these systems are going to continue to exist and be dangerous even if broken up.”
Funneling Facebook’s ad revenue into Instagram would potentially exacerbate another issue Haugen emphasized throughout the testimony: the understaffing of essential groups outside of Facebook’s growth teams.
“Facebook’s consistent understaffing of the counter-espionage, information operations, and counterterrorism teams is a national security issue,” she said. “I have strong national security concerns about how Facebook operates today.”
Facebook’s Director of Policy Communications released a statement questioning Haugen’s credibility on the subjects about which she was testifying, adding that Facebook didn’t agree with her characterization of the issues discussed.
However, Facebook said that “despite all this,” it supports regulating the internet and that “it is time for Congress to act.” Facebook has previously said it supports creating rules for online platforms.