Facebook has issued an explanation for the outage that lasted more than 5 hours and disconnecting the world. It was not a hack, but some technical mumbo-jumbo their engineers described as “faulty configuration change.”
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt,” Santosh Janardhan, Facebook VP of Infrastructure, said.
Facebook, and its subsidiaries, including Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram, went offline for several hours Monday, creating peace and quiet many people rarely experience in our connected world. The outage, first detected at around 11.40 PST, lasted more than 5 hours, impacting more than 3 billion Facebook family product users, worldwide.
Downdetecter, a company that tracks online outages ranked the event at the very top.
“Today’s Facebook outage was the largest outage we’ve ever seen on Downdetector with over 14 million problem reports from all over the globe,” Downdetector said in a Facebook post.
The impact was however felt more in the US than other parts of the world because of timezone differences.
In a blog post on its official page, Facebook emphasized the outage was not due to a hack and assured users their information was safe.
“We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change,” Janardhan said. “We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”
Some businesses that rely on Facebook to reach their customers were affected. The New York Times reported a food vendor in Delhi, India, who relies on Whatsapp to receive and fulfill orders was unable to conduct business because the platform was down.
“Everything is down, my whole business is down,” Samir Munir told The New York Times.
Upon restoration of service, Facebook sent a message on its official Twitter page and apologized to users.
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. Thank you for bearing with us.
— Meta (@Meta) October 4, 2021
Hashtag #Facebookdown is trending on Twitter, with many people mocking and pocking fun at Facebook with memes popping up.
EARLIER IN THE DAY WHEN OUTAGE WAS ONGOING
Facebook Communication official Andy Stone ironically took to Twitter to announce the outage.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” Stone said. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
The outage comes Facebook is under fire after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, accused Facebook of encouraging hate speech for profit. Appearing on CBS’ 60 Minutes Show, Haugen revealed thousands of pages in Facebook’s internal research that suggests Facebook is misleading the public about its effort to stamp out negative interactions on its platforms.
“We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech, and misinformation on Facebook and the family of apps are affecting societies around the world,” the Facebook internal research found.
She accused Facebook of fomenting global ethnic violence.
“When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful polarizing content, it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other,” Haugen told 60 Minutes. “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our society apart and is causing ethnic violence around the world.”
In 2018, a report commissioned by Facebook found the platform enabled the Myanmar military to track down members of the Rohingya minority tribe, killing thousands and displacing more than 700,000 others.
Instagram, Facebook’s other subsidiary aimed at a younger crowd, was also accused of doing nothing despite their platform harms teens by making them have body image issues. The revelation all but killed Facebook’s plan to expand its Instagram reach and build a platform for kids under 13.
Facebook stock has also seen a dramatic 5 percent drop amid the barrage of bad news engulfing the social media behemoth, Oct 4.
The outage has affected millions of people in Africa who rely on Whatsapp, another Facebook-owned gigantic app for communication, social networking, and e-commerce.
Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history, took to Twitter to remind people to switch from Facebook-owned Whatsapp and suggested using Signal, a non-profit alternative.
“Facebook-owned Whatsapp being down is a reminder that you and your friends should probably be using a more private, non-profit alternative like
@Signalapp anyway (or another open-source app of your choice). It’s just as free and takes like 30 seconds to switch.”
Other alternatives to Whatsapp include Telegram, which allows people to form groups of up to 20,000 for free. Telegram was founded by Russian tech billionaire Pavel Durov, who is also known as Russia’s Zukerberg, for creating Vkontakte, a Russian social network rivaling Facebook according to Forbes.com.
Facebook has become a part of human global daily communication. It isn’t easy, now, to imagine a world without it.