By: Lia Vaiserman
On October 5th, all of Facebook’s apps, including Instagram and Whatsapp, experienced a six-hour shutdown. Over two billion people nationwide use Facebook as a way of communication and as a news source. When the apps were shut down, so were many people’s lives. In 2021, people were so reliant on social media that it became difficult for people to survive just six hours without the apps made by Facebook. Not only were everyday citizens affected by this, but so were employees at Facebook’s companies. The outage prevented Facebook’s employees from accessing their work material. Engineers trying to fix the outage issue could not log onto their applications to decipher the problem. Millions of small businesses that use Facebook to communicate with their customers were unable to make many sales during the outage. In this society, social media has taken over millions of people’s daily lives, and many are concerned with the safety of their children using social media.
During the time that Facebook’s company went dark, the company’s documents were leaked by a whistleblower who testified on Capitol Hill. One of Facebook’s former employees, Frances Haugen, revealed thousands of Facebook’s secret documents to the public. Her reasoning for this was to show the public how truly corrupt Facebook’s company is and how it harms young children’s health. Frances claims that Facebook ignores teenagers’ safety, especially those regular users of Instagram. Facebook’s company has the ability to make its apps safer and more user-friendly, especially for its younger audience. Frances says that Facebook will not make Instagram safer because they value their profits more than their users’ mental health. Frances believes that Facebook can alter its company’s regulations only if they prioritize its customers’ safety more.
Mark Zuckerberg is the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, and after Frances’s speech at the Senate, millions were waiting to see how Zuckerberg was going to respond to this testimony. Zuckerberg responded and shut down the allegations against his company, saying, “It’s disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don’t care” (Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Post). Even though he shut down the allegations, the investigation into Facebook will continue. Soon after the allegations appeared, Facebook announced to the public that they would develop new safety features in their software. The purpose of these new tools is to ensure the safety of teenagers and to better restrict triggering topics from younger users. In the next couple of months, the conditions of Facebook’s company will most likely change to a great extent.