Procon-SP fines Facebook R$ 11.2 million due to blackout in Brazil

Procon-SP fined Facebook in Brazil R$ 11.2 million for having left its main apps — WhatsApp , Facebook and Instagram — offline for about six hours on October 4th . According to the consumer protection agency, more than 91 thousand Brazilians on Facebook, more than 90 thousand on Instagram and more than 156,000 on WhatsApp were harmed.

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According to Fernando Capez, executive director of Procon-SP, there was "a clear failure in the provision of the service, harming millions of consumers in Brazil and in the world". Furthermore, he argued that even if the platforms do not charge money for the public to use them, "the company profits from the users, therefore, there is a consumer relationship". The company still has the right to present a defense.

Procon also pointed out abuses in terms of use clauses of the apps that presented the fall. One of them provides for the possibility of unilateral alteration of the contract by the company, such as changing the username of the account, closure or alteration of the service and removal or blocking of content.

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For the agency, this violates article 51 of the Consumer Protection Code, which says: "The contractual clauses relating to the supply of products and services that: (…) authorize the supplier to cancel the contract unilaterally, without equal rights being given to the consumer", among other points.

In the entity's view, Facebook also inserts clauses in which it disclaims responsibility for problems in the provision of services. According to Procon, this is abusive "since it is the company's duty to respond for defects and failures resulting from the service".

Procon pointed out abuses under Facebook apps (Image: Timothy Hales Bennett/Unsplash)

Sought by Canaltech , Facebook replied: “We disagree with the decision of Procon-SP to fine Facebook Brasil. Meta [name of Facebook's new holding] invests in technology and people to keep its free services running, and to make its systems increasingly resilient. We will present our defense and we trust that our clarifications will be accepted by Procon-SP."

remember the case

Facebook services, including the eponymous social network, Instagram and WhatsApp, failed in the early afternoon of October 4 this year. The platforms became inaccessible to many people around the world. Due to instability, the public came across error messages. The peak of complaints started at 12:30 pm Brasília time. It was only around 6:30 pm that services began to be restored.

According to Facebook , the problem affected the settings in the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between data centers, which disrupted communication. This traffic failure had a ripple effect on the way data centers "talk" to each other, and this caused the web to lose access to services.

There was a succession of events that triggered an even greater problem. Any error related to DNS servers tends to take time to fix because there is a concept called "propagation time" which can take hours — even if you fix routes quickly, servers take time to understand the change and start replicating it.

As the services attached are also within this framework, many tools and even the company's internal systems have crashed. This was the case, for example, with the turnstiles at the entrance to the Facebook award: they stopped working and employees were unable to enter rooms and buildings to solve the problems. In some cases, according to the workers themselves, it was necessary to cut doors and other physical barriers to enter the premises.

In addition, tools used in fault diagnosis were also prevented from working. Thus, it was necessary to use manual checks and this takes more time than an automated system.

Read the article on Canaltech .

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