Conspiracy theories explode after Facebook fails


Conspiracy theories exploded online after Facebook and several of the company’s apps went inaccessible on Monday.

The unprecedented outage resulted in not only Facebook but also Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger collapsing.

While the details are scarce, evidence so far suggests that an update to Facebook’s Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which relates to how traffic is routed across the internet, may have caused the problem. It remains unclear whether the incident was just an accident or malicious in nature. Since the release some services are back online.

With so many unanswered questions, users on Twitter started spreading conspiracy theories that attributed the outages to a variety of problems.

A satirical account on Twitter apparently convinced thousands that the problem on Facebook was caused by a Chinese hacker.

Although the account later reiterated that it was posting satire, countless users continued to spread the false claim.

Others suggested that an employee might have sabotaged the company after seeing the 60 minutes Interview on Sunday with a Facebook whistleblower.

Screenshots of what appeared to be DNS addresses have also been cited by prominent accounts as evidence that Facebook has been completely wiped from the internet, despite these claims being false.

A story of hacked Facebook data circulating on a hacking forum was also used as evidence that the company was compromised. However, researcher Aric Toler noted that the alleged files first appeared online two weeks ago. In addition, an alleged customer on the forum claimed that the sale was indeed a scam and that he never received the alleged data.

Unsurprisingly, some supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory believed the failure was part of “10 Days of Darkness,” a mythical event that is believed to coincide with the return of former President Donald Trump.

The term “Anonymous” also started to become trendy on Twitter after users claimed the hacktivist group was responsible for Facebook’s troubles.

Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer apologized for the failure in a tweet on Monday, in which he blamed “network problems” for the problem.

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* First released: October 4, 2021 at 5:02 p.m. CDT

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a Seattle-based tech and security reporter covering social media, privacy breaches, hackers, and more.

Mikael Thalen

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