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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp working again after global outage took down platforms

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Facebook experienced one of the worst outages in its history on Monday, leaving users around the world unable to access its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, for several hours.

By late on Monday, the services were slowly coming back online, with the company apologizing for the extended disruption.

“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now,” Facebook tweeted.

In a later blog post, it said faulty configuration changes on its routers were the root cause of the nearly six-hour outage.

“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication,” the statement said. “This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.

Facebook said it had “no evidence” that user data was compromised.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp became inaccessible for large numbers of people at about 5pm UK time (12pm ET), with Downdetector.com citing reports of problems from millions of social media users around the world. A map on the site showed, for instance, reports of outages.

In a blog post, Downdetector said the outage was global and the largest it had ever seen. “Facebook is currently experiencing a rarely seen global outage that is taking out Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.” As of 1pm PDT, Downdetector said it had seen more than 10.6m problem reports from around the world, with the majority coming from the US, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

The outage affected potentially tens of millions of users, organizations and businesses, highlighting the widespread global dependency on Facebook and its platforms. Countless websites and applications use Facebook’s advertising network, one of the largest in the world, meaning effects from the outage extended far beyond the platform’s users, Luke Deryckx, the chief technology officer for Ookla, wrote in the Downdetector blogpost.

The trouble began on Monday as users around the world opened WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook to error messages that remained for hours.

Users attempting to open Instagram were greeted with an error message, while Facebook failed to load or said: “Sorry, something went wrong.” On Twitter, WhatsApp said: “We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment. We’re working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.”

The outage forced the company to turn to Twitter to release its public statements. Around 5pm UK time, the Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted: “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 apologise for any inconvenience.”

Twitter itself had a little fun at its rivals’ expense. “Hello literally everyone,” said its account.

Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were hit by a massive outage, impacting potentially tens of millions of people around the world.
Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were hit by a massive outage, impacting potentially tens of millions of people around the world. Photograph: Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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