Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down last night for many users and the outage revealed that Facebook is reportedly information extracted from your photos.
According to reports, the reason why the Facebook family of apps was down because a ‘routine maintenance operation’ triggered a bug that made it problematic for users to upload, send or view images.
The statement was given by a Facebook spokesperson.
The outage also resulted in a new finding. Reports suggest that Facebook extracts a description of the photos you upload by machine-learning systems. During the outage, images on the platform were showing a piece of text that said, (for example)’Image may contain: 4 people sitting, 2 people smiling; Image may contain: ocean, beard, drink and indoor’ and more descriptions like that.
The platform has reportedly been using machine-learning to read images since at least 2016, to increase the accessibility of images to users with visual impairments.
Although the outage last night has sparked many suspicions. It’s unclear whether Facebook uses this information for targeting users with ads as this information was new to a lot of people.
And given the history of Facebook invading users’ privacy, shadow contact information, storing millions of passwords, shady deals with Apple, Amazon and more, does raise doubts.
Moreover, the outage also had negative effects on businesses on the platform. Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO & Co-Founder, Gozoop mentions that the platform could’ve handles the situation better. He thinks that a simple notification to the end user addressing the glitches could’ve helped keep the user informed.
He adds, “In fact we had some episodic campaigns planned for the evening that day that required last minute considerations to pause and reschedule them for better effectiveness. It was less than desirable.”