Social media has held a global population tightly in its clutches and has captivated a worldwide audience of users, garnering high volumes of user engagement and interest from investors alike. Facebook experienced a boom since its creation in 2004 as a multimedia social media platform allowing its users to interact with one another, play games, and keep in touch with anyone who sent them a “friend” request. Facebook’s fate now lies in jeopardy as the true intentions behind the platform have been exposed over the years, and now, a new whistleblower claims that investors are being deceived.
Facebook and other services under the Facebook conglomerate have been undergoing outages, and in addition, have been struck by a drop in their shares. At the time of writing, MarketWatch reports that Facebook shares have decreased by 6% and are priced at $323, marking a new industry low since October 2020. The decline in the stock purchases follows a 60 Minutes’ interview with former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen. Haugen alleges that Facebook has been deceiving those who invest in the social network and has contributed to political extremism.
Haugen said that Facebook disbanded its Civic Integrity team after the 2020 Presidental Election that shook the United States to its core. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said that during a hearing that will take place against Facebook that Haugen will again be asked about her election remarks. “It will be a part of the hearing that they disbanded their Civic Integrity team,” Blumenthal said. “In effect, they dismantled their safety systems, which meant more content that was hateful, divisive, polarizing.”
It was alleged by Haugen that Facebook condemned the insurrection that had taken place at the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021. She said that Facebook is being dishonest about its efforts to minimize hate, violence, and misinformation. “When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other,” she said. “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.”
In the wake of Haugen’s 60 Minutes interview, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp received thousands of reports of each respected application not properly working. Facebook would not load correctly, messages could not be sent through WhatsApp, and Instagram feeds did not update in real-time. While the cause behind the multiplatform outage was not immediately clarified, it has been credited to a Domain Name System failure. The dysfunction of the apps has been named as “the worst outage for the technology giant” since 2008 and is another contributing reason for Facebook’s name to appear in headlines on a global level.
Facebook still remains under fire for attempting to move forward with Instagram Kids, a photo-sharing social media platform modeled after Instagram, would be replicated for children ages 10 to 12-years-old would be the primary target audience. Criticism of Instagram Kids caused the app’s release to be staggered as concerns around potential harm that the platform could cause. Facebook took to headlines again after former president Donald Trump was issued a two-year suspension from accessing Instagram and Facebook, declared by Facebook Vice President for Global Affairs Nick Clegg. It was said that his social media privileges would be instated if “if the risk to public safety has receded.”
The plummeting of stocks post-60 Minutes interview cost Mark Zuckerberg $120.9 billion, and the reports around Facebook’s issues with its products – from the insurrection to Instagram’s harm done to the mental health of teenage girls – snagged the attention of government officials. Facebook employees are facing declined access to buildings, meaning that they cannot address the issues and allow users to regain access to their media. It remains unclear as to if this is an intentional response to information uncovered by Haugen, or an extremely lucky coincidence for the social media titan.