Facebook and Related Apps Go Down in Huge Global Outage

Facebook and Related Apps Go Down in Huge Global Outage
Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP

Facebook and all its related apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, all went dark just before noon today in a huge global outage.

Only now, about six hours later, are some Facebook users able to regain some use of the social media platform.

From NY Times:

This time, the cause of the outage remained unclear. It was unlikely that a cyberattack was the culprit because a hack generally does not affect so many apps at once, said two members of Facebook’s security team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Security experts said the problem most likely stemmed instead from a misconfiguration of Facebook’s server computers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, posted on Twitter, “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
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On top of that, it wasn’t just the public platforms that were experiencing issues. The internal Facebook network was having issues, as well. There were reports of employees not even being able to get into their buildings because their badges didn’t work.

Many people found the timing of the outage curious because it followed a Facebook product manager, Frances Haugen, identifying herself on Sunday on “60 Minutes” as the whistleblower who has leaked to media tens of thousands of pages of Facebook internal research about the harm that social media like Facebook was causing, including to teenage girls. “60 Minutes” has been doing a five-part series on the leak and Haugen has filed complaints against Facebook with federal law enforcement.

But at this point, folks in the know seem to believe that today’s outage is due to a BGP configuration error which was done inadvertently during a routine update. What that means is that it essentially made the DNS records that tell systems how to find Facebook.com or Instagram go away. So it’s like you’re looking for them and they’re not there. Then other (non-Facebook) applications, such as Twitter, may have gotten somewhat overloaded when everyone went to them when they couldn’t access Facebook and Instagram. Here’s a longer, geekier breakdown of how it happened from Cloudflare.

Whatever the cause, it wasn’t good for Mark Zuckerberg who ended up losing a ton of money on the day — more than $6 billion, to be precise.

There was a big selloff causing Facebook’s stock to dive 4.9% on Monday, adding to a drop of about 15% since mid-September.

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