The unusual situation that Facebook technicians experienced with the fall of WhatsApp

The fall of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp was experienced as a chaotic day by millions of people in the world, who were unable to communicate through the usual channels. To general chaos, the company’s specialists had to add an extra difficulty, since the failure made them unable to access the equipment they had to reconfigure. There were moments of bewilderment.

Facebook, explained Fernando Schapachnik, Executive Director of the Sadosky Foundation, “is used as an identity provider by a lot of other websites and applications “; that is,” instead of logging on to any website, instead of putting your username and password, this authentication is done by taking Facebook data “.

For this reason, the fall recorded on October 4 generated a waterfall effect. “A note of color, tragicomic, which is part of the anecdote although it does not address the underlying issue, is that their own failure in the system prevented the access control systems from working“Schapachnik said.

This meant that Facebook’s own experts “had been disconnected from the computers they had to reconfigure and at the same time they could not physically access those computers because when they tried to enter with their credentials the system failed because it could not connect to the central server”added.

Dependence in various areas

This difficulty evidenced the “dependency” that “has been generated from these services in various areas, the level of involvement of entrepreneurs, merchants, people who depend on this company for their communications, “said Beatriz Busaniche, president of the Vía Libre Foundation.

For the specialist, “it revealed the terrible idea that is to use this type of platform services for other relationships such as those with the States, with prepaid medicine companies and many other companies that today use the Facebook ‘log in’ or Google to identify their customers online. “

It would also be appropriate to ask how the fall of WhatsApp can be understood compared to other more open services. “The comparison with the mail is interesting which is intended as the bulk of standardized Internet protocols, as a form of federated access, where there is no single email provider, there are a lot of providers that interact with each other because there are a set of clear rules, “said Schapachnik.

“It is as if it were a recipe for how to make a cake and everyone can make the cake they want. I can have an email from Gmail and send from Hotmail; I can have an email that my employer or the State gives me, they all interact with each other. With messaging platforms that situation is not given “, full.

To analyze what happened, the specialist argued that the distinction is key, on the one hand, “between an app that defines its own protocol, implements it by itself and no one else can do it” and, on the other, “a federated system like that of the mail or that of the web pages, which is full of public and private providers, and in which there is everything, everyone can participate, compete or collaborate “.

“It is a difficult and profound subject to understand; it is not a discussion reserved for technologists only. Understanding that today to consider ourselves informed people it is necessary to understand technology, is one of the steps that we have to take as a society“Schapachnik concluded.

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