Facebook Apologizes For Mass Outage, Reveals Why It Happened

The Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram logos are displayed through broken glass in this illustration taken on October 4, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Facebook has apologized for the massive outage that prevented billions of users from accessing Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger for several hours.

“To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage on our platforms,” said Santosh Janardhan, vice president of infrastructure at Facebook, in a blog post late Monday.

The outage, which prevented users from refreshing their feeds or sending messages, was caused by “configuration changes on the backbone routers,” Janardhan said, without specifying exactly what the changes were.

The changes caused “problems” that interrupted the flow of traffic between routers in Facebook’s data centers around the world, he added.

“This disruption in network traffic has had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, shutting down our services,” Janardhan said.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp stopped working shortly before noon ET, when Facebook’s services websites and apps responded with server errors.

Just after 7 p.m. ET, about six hours after the platforms went offline, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are coming back online now.

He added: “Sorry for the disruption today – I know how much you rely on our services to keep in touch with the people who are dear to you.”

The outage marked the longest downtime for Facebook since 2008, when a bug took the site offline for about a day, affecting around 80 million users. The platform currently has around 3 billion users.

In 2019, a similar outage lasted about an hour. Facebook blamed a server configuration change for the outage.

The blackout came a day after the whistleblower who leaked private internal research to the Wall Street Journal and Congress came to light before an interview with “60 Minutes.” The documents, first reported in a series of Journal articles, revealed that company executives understood Instagram’s negative impacts on young users and that Facebook’s algorithm enabled, among other things, the spread of disinformation.

Facebook shares closed nearly 5% lower on Monday, but rose more than 1% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Samantha Subin.

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