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Facebook loses $64 billion as apps crash, whistleblower opens fire

·3-min read
Facebook stocks crash as apps go offline and Mark Zuckerberg appearing before a Senate hearing in the US via video
Facebook stocks crashed overnight after a whistleblower called out the comapny for 'harming society' and a technical issue saw apps taken offline (Source: Getty)

Facebook haemorrhaged $64 billion (US$46 billion) on Wall Street overnight after the company suffered a major tech stuff-up which saw its Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram apps down.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost $8.2 billion (US$6 billion) in a matter of hours as the stock crashed.

While the apps are back up and running now, that wasn’t the only thing weighing on the Silicon Valley giant in the US session.

There was also a lot of scrutiny after a whistleblower appeared on the US 60 Minutes slamming Facebook for tearing society apart.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee made official complaints to US federal law enforcement over the company’s inaction to curb misinformation and harmful materials on the site.

She told 60 Minutes Facebook internal research proved the company is well aware of the negative effect it can have on society and chooses not to act so it can make more profits.

Yet, despite the severity of the drop, Facebook shares are already rebounding in after-hours trading - a system in the US where some trades will still go through after hours giving an indication of where they might open the next day.

Let’s have a look at the current controversy plaguing the social media giant and some of its other major mishaps.

October 2021 - Facebook called out by whistleblower

As mentioned, Facebook lost 4.89 per cent in the US session overnight making it one of the more significant losses copped by the company.

According to tens of thousands of internal Facebook research documents copied by Haugen, the company is aware that it is harmful to society.

Huagen sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes in the US. Here are six of her most damning quotes:

  • “What I saw at Facebook over and over again is that there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public, and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook over and over again chose to optimise for its own interest.”

  • “When we live in an information environment that is full of hateful, angry, polarising content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other. The version of Facebook that it is today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.”

  • “They told [the Facebook employees] we were dissolving civic integrity. They basically said ‘oh good, we made it through the election without any riots, we can get rid of civic integrity now’.”

  • “I don’t trust that [Facebook] is willing to invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.”

  • “[Facebook’s] own research is showing that … it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.”

  • “If they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, click on less ads and [Facebook] will make less money.”

December 2018 - Facebook comes under scrutiny for privacy breaches

Facebook fell around 7 per cent over the month of December in 2018 after a number of privacy concerns were brought to the forefront.

The New York Times obtained documents that found the social media giant had secret arrangements to provide users’ personal data to a number of large companies despite publicly saying it has ceased the practice.

The private data included allowing large companies access to the personal information and private messages of almost every Facebook user.

March 2018 - Cambridge Analytica scandal

In one of the largest and most publicised privacy breaches, Facebook was hammered after it came to light that a UK-based data company misused user data from around 50 million Facebook users.

In response, Facebook removed access to user data from tens of thousands of apps running on the site.

The scandal led to Zuckerberg having to front up to the US and UK parliaments for questioning on how the company protects user privacy.

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