Facebook apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, are going down around the world

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook and its family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, crashed at the same time on Monday, wiping out a vital communications platform used by more than three billion people globally and adding heat to a business already under close scrutiny.

Facebook’s apps – which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Oculus – started showing error messages around 11:40 a.m. EST, users reported. In five minutes, Facebook was gone from the Internet. Hours later, the sites were still not functioning, according to Downdetector, which monitors web traffic and site activity.

Tech outages are not uncommon, but seeing so many apps disappear from the world’s largest social media company at the same time was highly unusual. Facebook’s last major outage dates back to 2019, when a technical error plagued its sites for 24 hours, a reminder that even the most powerful internet companies can still be crippled by a snafu.

This time, the cause of the failure remained uncertain. Several hours after the incident began, Facebook security experts were still trying to identify the root of the problem, according to an internal memo and employees briefed on the matter. Two members of its security team, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said a cyberattack was unlikely to have taken place because a hack would likely not affect as many applications at the same time.

Security experts said the problem most likely stemmed from a misconfiguration of Facebook’s server computers, which did not allow people to log into its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp. When errors like this occur, businesses frequently revert to their previous setup, but Facebook’s issues seemed more complex and required manual updating.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, posted on twitter, “We are aware that some people have difficulty accessing our applications and products. We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. “

The outage sparked outrage and glee online, as Facebook and Instagram users took to Twitter to lament and mock their inability to use the apps. The #facebookdown hashtag also quickly started to catch on.

But the outage has been a blow to small businesses and others who depend on the platform for outreach and advertising, and for millions of people who use Facebook and its apps to connect with friends and family. worldwide.

Players who live stream their game on Facebook Gaming and get paid by viewers and subscribers said on Monday they were trying to find alternatives.

“You definitely feel disconnected, and it’s scary too,” said Douglas Veney, a Cleveland player who calls himself GoodGameBro. He said he had hoped to post videos and other content on Facebook for his followers before a live broadcast scheduled for Monday evening. “I have 300,000 subscribers out there – it’s just a matter of crossing your fingers that nothing happens when it comes back.”

Mr Veney, 33, also has a job outside of streaming, but he said he knew other streamers living from paycheck to paycheck who were making the jump to other sites so they could continue to stream. earn money.

“It’s tough when your main income platform for a lot of people goes down,” he said.

Inside Facebook, workers rushed because their internal systems also stopped working. The company’s global security team “has been made aware of a system outage affecting all of Facebook’s internal systems and tools,” according to an internal memo sent to employees. Those tools included security systems, an internal calendar and planning tools, according to the memo.

Employees reported having difficulty making calls from cellphones issued by work and receiving emails from people outside the company. Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also phased out, leaving many people unable to do their jobs. Some have turned to other platforms to communicate, including LinkedIn and Zoom as well as Discord chat rooms.

Some Facebook employees who had returned to work in the office were also unable to enter buildings and conference rooms because their digital badges no longer worked. Security engineers said they could not assess the outage because they could not access areas of the servers.

Facebook’s global security operations center determined that the outage was “HIGH risk to people, MODERATE risk to assets, and HIGH risk to Facebook’s reputation,” the company note said.

A small team of employees were quickly dispatched to Facebook’s data center in Santa Clara, Calif., To attempt a “manual reset” of the company’s servers, according to an internal memo.

Several Facebook employees called the outage the equivalent of a “snowy day,” a sentiment that was publicly echoed by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri.

Facebook has already faced numerous checks. The company was criticized by whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who racked up thousands of pages of internal research and has since distributed them to the media, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Facebook was aware of numerous damages caused by its services.

Ms Haugen, who revealed her identity Sunday online and on “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify in Congress on Tuesday about Facebook’s impact on young users.

In the early days of Facebook, the site experienced occasional outages as millions of new users flocked to the network. Over the years, it has spent billions of dollars expanding its infrastructure and services, creating huge data centers in cities such as Prineville, Oregon, and Fort Worth, Texas.

The company has also been trying to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for several years.

John Graham-Cumming, chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said in an interview that Monday’s issue was most likely a misconfiguration of Facebook’s servers.

Computers convert websites such as facebook.com to digital internal protocol addresses, through a system that is likened to a phone’s address book. Facebook’s problem was tantamount to removing the phone numbers of people under their name from their address book, making them impossible to call, he said. Cloudflare provides some of the systems that support Facebook’s internet infrastructure.

“It was as if Facebook had just said, ‘Goodbye, we’re leaving now,’” Graham-Cumming said.

Ryan mac, Nicole perlroth and Kellen browning contributed reports.

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