On Monday, October 4th, Facebook and its family of applications, which include Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, were unavailable for several hours. The downtime disrupted a vital communication tool used by billions and highlighting how reliant the world has become on the social media giant.
The handful of apps started working about 6 hours after the initial incident occurred. Though the company cautioned that it might take some time for the platforms to restore, they seem to be up and running once again.
Users reported receiving error warnings on Facebook, as well as it’s apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus, around 11:40am EST. The social platforms seemed to have disappeared from the internet.
“Today’s shutdown underlined our reliance on Facebook — and its assets like WhatsApp and Instagram,” Brooke Erin Duffy, a Cornell University communications professor, said. “The shocking extent of precocity that underpins our increasingly digitally mediated employment economy is shown by the brevity of today’s outage.”
The outage only exacerbated Facebook’s ongoing issues. Because the outage also affected Facebook’s internal systems and tools, which it employs on a regular basis, the problem was exacerbated and a solution was more elusive. Employees were also having issues accessing the room where the routers were stored, according to reports. The outage is one of Facebook’s worst since a 24-hour occurrence in 2019, which was also caused by a change in their server DNS configurations.
The company expressed regret for the outage. “We’re sorry,” they wrote on Twitter when its apps were made available again. “We appreciate your patience.”
Several other sites and platforms leverage Facebook to sign in, which has unforeseen implications such as customers being unable to access their smart TVs, thermostats, and other internet-connected appliances. The platforms were eventually restored when a team obtained access to the server equipment at a data center in Santa Clara, California, according to three people within the facility.
Their global security team “was notified of a system failure affecting all Facebook internal systems and tools,” according to an internal message sent to employees and published by The New York Times. The memo listed systems, an institutional calendar, and programming management tools, among other things.
Because their digital credentials had stopped working, some support employees who had returned to work at the office were unable to enter buildings and conference rooms. Engineers said they couldn’t assess the outage because they couldn’t get to server locations. Luckily, all of the issues have since been resolved, and it seems to be back to business as usual!