Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth fell by over $6 billion in a few hours after the Facebook outage bringing him down a notch on the list of the world’s richest people, after the social media giant faced an outage of nearly seven hours along with Instagram and WhatsApp. Hours before the outage, a whistleblower came forward and revealed her identity which also likely contributed to the outage. In just a few hours, Zuckerberg’s personal wealth was reduced by over $6 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, this has cost Zuckerberg the fifth position among billionaires. Now, he stands with $120.9 billion in sixth place, behind Bill Gates. Shares of Facebook plummeted about 5 per cent, adding to a 15 per cent drop since mid-September.
According to The Index, Zuckerberg is down from almost $140 billion in a matter of weeks. On September 13, the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of stories based on a cache of internal documents, revealing that Facebook knew about a wide range of problems with its products — such as Instagram’s harm to teenage girls’ mental health and misinformation about the January 6 Capitol riots — while downplaying the issues in public.
The reports have drawn the attention of government officials, and on Monday, the whistleblower revealed herself. Frances Haugen, 37, revealed her identity after she applied for federal whistleblower protection. Haugen had presented internal documents that went to Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and The Wall Street Journal. She decided to reveal her identity and noted that Facebook realised that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, and will click on fewer ads, making less money. It was Haugen who presented papers and information on Instagram being harmful to teenager’s mental health that has led to the platform pausing Instagram Kids.
In response, Facebook has emphasised that the issues facing its products, including political polarisation, are complex and not caused by technology alone.“I think it gives people comfort to assume that there must be a technological or a technical explanation for the issues of political polarisation in the United States,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, told CNN. This was one of the longest outages Facebook and its services like WhatsApp faced. Facebook in a blog noted that the cause of the global outage was a glitch in routers. Facebook has blamed the faulty configuration change behind the outage.