#Facebookdown. What is the future of the tech giant?

Posted by: lspr

All eyes are on the Californian tech giant after it's largest ever outage which affected users worldwide overnight. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not offering any specific answers to the reasons  behind the crash, nor to his future vision of the company. 

Where were you during the great Facebook outage of 2019? Okay, perhaps it wasn't one of the most disastrous events of the year, or any year, but the fact still stands that on March 13th, 2019, Facebook, and numerous other apps that are owned by the company, completely or partially crashed and it sent the world a little bit mad.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, was forced to post updates using rival Twitter in order to explain their largest service failure in history. As well as Facebook, users reported having difficulties with other apps owned by the company such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

While the outage might not affect the everyday person, (hey, it was probably a good thing that we couldn’t aimlessly scroll through our news feeds for once), the outage has likely affected companies and brands that spend large sums of money using the networks to advertise.

Facebook, at this moment in time, is being cagey in terms of providing any information about why the outage happened, only saying that the outage was not the result of a DDos hack. In a DDos attack, hackers use networks they control to submit such a large amount of information requests that the hosts can no longer handle the traffic and the sites crash.

In other Facebook news, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently announced that there is a new vision for the company moving forward. In a lengthy Facebook note, Zuckerberg details wanting to offer a service that offers privacy first. Zuckerberg is honest in saying that Facebook has gained a reputation for not having the strongest privacy for its users, saying that the platform was initially built for ‘open sharing’.

The CEO goes on to state that he hopes to change this reputation, and offer a service with advanced encryption, secure data storage, reduced permanence of their posts and a general increase security of users. Zuckerberg plans to make all of our apps connected, saying that he wants to build more ways for people to interact including “calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services”.

 

Interestingly, at this point in time, he does not go into any detail on how this new vision will work into Facebooks underlying business model.

Further to this point, this new business model goes completely against the current one; which is collecting vast amounts of data from its users and allowing advertisers access to this data to target products or services towards the masses.  Zuckerberg mentions in his post that he knows Facebook does not have the strongest reputation for security, which may also be referring to the number of scandals that have been uncovered involving the company selling their vast amounts of data to app developers (see the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal).

Critics say that Mark Zuckerberg will not be able to create this new service. Some say that Zuckerberg is envisioning two separate environments for Facebook, and the services that it offers. They say that there will still be the public news feed, which we are all accustomed to, as well as a private area which links all of our apps with a highly sophisticated security model.

Are people going to trust a company that has already tarnished its reputation for security? Are people going to care? With all three services (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) having over 1 billion users each, the company may have such a stranglehold on the industry that people will simply go along with whatever changes are made without understanding what has gone on in the background.

Another interesting question is how local and international data privacy laws will change to stay up to date with these planned changes. With such a mammoth percentage of the world’s population using the services, law makers will surely have to stay on top of these planned changes to ensure the safety and security of users remains a priority worldwide.  For now, we have only been granted a summary of Zuckerberg’s vision, and therefore it is hard to answer a lot of these questions.

 

If there is one thing that the recent Facebook outage has taught us, although it may have  affected us in a trivial sense, it was actually quite nice to have a digital detox and be able to speak to each other at the dinner table… for one night of the year at least.

 

David Fleck, March 14th 2019