When Eiron, the goddess of irony and Karma join forces, you get stories like:
Facebook filed a motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit on the same day [as their outage], claiming the FTC lacks evidence it’s a monopoly. (NYT $)
Oops. That’s gonna leave a mark on Mark. Facebook just defined monopoly. The MIT newsletter does some heavy lifting this morning on exactly how much of a monopoly is the cursed hell-scape of Facebook:
Serious implications: For many internet users in the United States, yesterday’s six-hour outage of Facebook’s apps and sites was a minor annoyance. But for the millions of people around the world who rely on Facebook’s products to access the internet the sudden downtime was far more serious.
What went wrong? The outage was down to changes made to Facebook’s backbone routers, the firm said in a blog post. Those changes meant that traffic was no longer being properly directed by the Domain Name System (DNS), a tool that directs traffic and tracks addresses across the internet.
Reliance: For much of the world, Facebook has become synonymous with the internet. That made the outage the equivalent of nothing less than a big infrastructure collapse. Its status as internet gatekeeper was by design. For years, Facebook has been working to expand internet access in the developing world—thus expanding its own user base, which is now more than 3.5 billion people. That means that even temporary outages have a devastating effect. Read the full story.
Our pals at Electoral-Vote also read the MIT Technology Review and they have this to add:
The MIT Technology Review published a studythat found that troll farms run by foreign actors absolutely dominated content on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, reaching 140 million Americans per month. The most popular page for American Christians, “Be Happy Enjoy Life,” with 18 times the readership of any other, is run by a troll farm. And can you guess how many of the top 20 pages for American Christians on Facebook are run by troll farms? We’ll get back to that.
For now, we’ll say that it wasn’t just American Christians that the troll farms targeted. They also ran popular pages for Black Americans, Native Americans, and women. “My Baby Daddy Aint S**t,” the #1 page for Black Facebook users, was run by a troll farm. So were “Native Americans” and “Native Americans Cherokee,” two of the five most popular Native American pages. Oh, and of the 20 most popular Christian pages, the number run by trolls? That would be 19.
Facebook has defended itself, in the past, by characterizing itself as a “town square,” and arguing that sometimes in a town square, unpopular people express unpopular ideas. Yevgeny Simkin, writing for The Bulwark, offers an on-pointcritique of that formulation that ends thus:
What’s another real-world concept where a private unregulated enterprise gets to make a fortune running psychological experiments on the population of the world, which leads to a slow collapse of civil and civic order and drives everyone insane? I’m actually drawing a blank—but it sure as hell isn’t a “town square.”
Facebook is too big to NOT fail with devastating consequences for too many people.