Facebook, Instagram and the widely used messaging service WhatsApp are gradually returning to normal after a multi-hour global blackout that disabled Facebook-owned social media platforms for around six hours.
In one Publish On rival platform Twitter on Monday evening, Facebook confirmed that its apps were coming back online and apologized to users for a blackout that has affected millions of people across the world.
“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: We’re sorry,” Facebook said. “We have worked hard to restore access to our applications and services and are happy to announce that they are coming back online now.”
The Downdetector.com outage tracking website said it had received 10.6 million reports of issues ranging from the United States and Europe to Colombia and Singapore, with the issues first appearing around 3:45 p.m. GMT.
Service was not restored until several hours later in what Downdetector describe as “the biggest blackout we’ve ever seen”.
On Tuesday morning, WhatsApp chief William Cathcart also took to Twitter to announce that the service was “back up and running” but did not say what could have caused the problems.
“We know people haven’t been able to use @WhatsApp to connect with friends, family, businesses, community groups and more today – a humble reminder of how much people and organizations rely on our application every day, ”Cathcart wrote in the tweet.
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 we apologize for any inconvenience.
– Facebook Facebook) October 4, 2021
Facebook later blamed the faulty configuration changes to its routers as the root cause of the outage.
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted that communication,” the company said.
Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, reporting from Washington, DC, said the outage was much longer than a 2019 shutdown of Facebook-owned apps that lasted about an hour and which WhatsApp said at the time “was caused by technical problems ”.
“This is obviously of great concern,” Fisher added of Monday’s issue.
The error message appearing on Facebook.com throughout the day read, “Sorry, something went wrong. We are working on it and will fix it ASAP. The message suggested a Domain Name System (DNS) error, Reuters reported.
DNS allows web addresses to take users to their destinations. A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies took down several websites in July.
Downdetector, which only tracks outages by pulling together status reports from a range of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform, has shown that there are over 50,000 incidents of people reporting issues with Facebook and Instagram.
CNET editor-in-chief Ian Sherr told Al Jazeera earlier that judging by the first reports and error messages users received on Monday, it was highly likely that something had been “misconfigured” “.
“My bet is that someone pressed a button the wrong way or a cord got unplugged which seems very minor, but the reality is we’ve seen these things before where all of a sudden something is wrongly configured. and whole swathes of the internet are unavailable, ”says Sherr.
The outage came with Facebook under increasing pressure in the United States, after a leaked internal investigation showed the social media giant was aware of how its Instagram app was harming the mental health of teenagers.
In a series of articles, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Facebook knew its platform Instagram made some teens, especially girls, feel bad about their self-image. The company dismissed the reports as a distortion of the investigation’s findings.
“We care deeply about the safety and security of the people on our platform,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global security, said during a Senate subcommittee hearing last week. “We have put in place several protections to create safe and age-appropriate experiences for people aged 13 to 17. “
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen will testify at another Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on the impacts of Facebook and Instagram on young users on Tuesday.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the subcommittee, said the testimony is “essential to understanding what Facebook knew about, when they knew about the toxic effects of its platforms on young users, and what they did to what they did. topic “.
Last week, Instagram announced that it was on hold on its plan to launch a platform for children, saying the move was intended to give the company “time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns and demonstrate the value and importance of this project for young teens online today ”.