Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Many Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Services Restored

Facebook Inc.’s services went offline for as much as six hours Monday before some of them were restored, an extended outage that disrupted access for users and businesses around the world and left the tech company flailing for a solution, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The company apologized for the outage, which affected its core platforms and apps including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger—and which an outside tracking firm said appeared to be the most widespread in its history. Facebook said the problem was due to networking issues. Outside experts said it appeared to stem from a change the company made to networking instructions for access to its systems.

The disruption hobbled communication both essential and mundane, cut off small businesses from customers and slowed e-commerce across myriad countries. Some companies saw their operations and revenues curtailed, while others sent out marketing pitches based on the services going dark, underscoring the extent to which Facebook—despite the many controversies and challenges it faces—is at the center of daily life all over the globe.

Users began to receive error messages when trying to access Facebook platforms shortly before noon ET. The outage also caused widespread disruptions to Facebook’s internal communication tools, including some voice calls and work apps used for calendar appointments and other functions, according to people familiar with the matter. Some staff were using Zoom to remain connected throughout the day, the people said.

In a blog post Monday night, Facebook blamed the outage on a configuration error. The outage cut off communications between Facebook’s data centers, leading to a cascade of disruptions as servers were cut off with each other, Facebook said. Internal systems were also hit, making it hard for the company’s engineers to diagnose and fix the problem, the company said. User data wasn’t compromised, according to the company.

Facebook began restoring its networking services starting around 5:20 p.m. ET Monday, according to the internet company Fastly. About a half hour later, Facebook’s apps and sites began functioning again for some users, Fastly said. Because the outage was so severe, the return to full recovery went slowly, Facebook said. The company didn’t specify what caused the initial networking issues.

The outage appeared to have been the largest in the company’s history based on the number of users affected. It is the largest ever detected by Downdetector, which tracks website outages, with more than 10.6 million problem reports from around the world, according to a spokesman for Downdetector’s parent company.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized. “I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about,” he said in a Facebook post.

Twitter was flooded Monday with comments, jokes and complaints from users of Facebook and its services. A few hours after the outage began, Twitter wrote “hello literally everyone” in a tweet on its official account. Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey also tweeted his support for Signal, a rival messaging service, amid other jokes. The company later acknowledged that the outpouring of traffic it received may have affected replies and direct messages for a period.

And while Facebook and Instagram are largely used for social reasons, WhatsApp is an essential communication tool for users around the world. The service has more than two billion active users.

According to Facebook’s quarterly financial results from July, the social-media company said it has 1.19 billion daily active users.

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