Social Media

Facebook Products are Back Online After a Massive Outage

Many Facebook and its products including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus faced an outage that started just before noon ET and took nearly six hours before it was resolved. This is the worst outage for Facebook since a 2019 incident took its site offline for more than 24 hours, as the downtime hit hardest on the small businesses and creators who rely on these services for their income.

The outage started just as Facebook’s Antigone Davis was live on CNBC defending the company over a whistle blower’s accusations and its handling of research data suggesting Instagram is harmful to teens. Facebook issued an explanation for the outage, saying that it was due to a configuration issue. The company says it doesn’t believe any user data was impacted.

On Twitter, Facebook communications exec Andy Stone stated, “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.” Mike Schroepfer, who will step down from his post as CTO next year, tweeted, “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”

After failing all tests for most of the day, a test of ISP DNS servers via DNSchecker.org showed most of them successfully finding a route to Facebook.com at 5:30PM ET. A few minutes later, we were able to start using Facebook and Instagram normally; however, it may take time for the DNS fixes to reach everyone.

Inside Facebook, the outage has broken nearly all of the internal systems employees use to communicate and work. Several employees said they resorted to talking through their work-provided Outlook email accounts, though employees can’t receive emails from external addresses. Employees who were logged into work tools such as Google Docs and Zoom before the outage can still use those, but any employee who needs to log in with their work email was blocked.

A peek at Down Detector reveals the problems were widespread. While it’s unclear exactly why the platforms were unreachable for so many people, their DNS records show that, like last week’s Slack outage, the problem is apparently DNS.

Cloudflare senior vice president Dane Knecht notes that Facebook’s border gateway protocol routes BGP helps networks pick the best path to deliver internet traffic were suddenly “withdrawn from the internet.” While some have speculated about hackers, or an internal protest over last night’s whistle blower report, there isn’t any information yet to suggest anything malicious is to blame.

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