Gone in Minutes, Out for Hours: Outage Shakes Facebook
When apps used by billions of people worldwide blinked out, lives were disrupted, businesses were cut off from customers — and some Facebook employees were locked out of their McClellan for The New York TimesPublished Oct. 4, 2021Updated Oct. 8, 2021[Watch the Facebook hearing live. ]SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook and its family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, were inaccessible for hours on Monday, taking out a vital communications platform used by billions and showcasing just how dependent the world has become on a company that is under intense scrutiny. Facebook’s apps — which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus — began displaying error messages around 11:40 a. m. Eastern time, users reported. Within minutes, Facebook had disappeared from the internet. The outage lasted over five hours, before some apps slowly flickered back to life, though the company cautioned the services would take time to so, the impact was far-reaching and severe. Facebook has built itself into a linchpin platform with messaging, livestreaming, virtual reality and many other digital services. In some countries, like Myanmar and India, Facebook is synonymous with the internet. More than 3. 5 billion people around the world use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family, distribute political messaging, and expand their businesses through advertising and outreach. Facebook is also used to sign in to many other apps and services, leading to unexpected domino effects such as people not being able to log into shopping websites or sign into their smart TVs, thermostats and other internet-connected nology outages are not uncommon, but to have so many apps go dark from the world’s largest social media company at the same time was highly unusual. Facebook’s last significant outage was in 2019, when a technical error affected its sites for 24 hours, in a reminder that a snafu can cripple even the most powerful internet time, Facebook said late Monday, the culprit was changes to its underlying internet infrastructure that coordinates the traffic between its data centers. That interrupted communications and cascaded to other data centers, “bringing our services to a halt, ” the company said. Facebook eventually restored service after a team got access to its server computers at a data center in Santa Clara, Calif., three people with knowledge of the matter said. Then they were able to reset company apologized for the outage. “We’re sorry, ” it said on Twitter after its apps started becoming accessible again. “Thank you for bearing with us. ”The outage added to Facebook’s mounting difficulties. For weeks, the company has been under fire related to a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who amassed thousands of pages of internal research. She has since distributed the cache to the news media, lawmakers and regulators, revealing that Facebook knew of many harms that its services were causing, including that Instagram made teenage girls feel worse about revelations have prompted an outcry among regulators, lawmakers and the public. Ms. Haugen, who revealed her identity on Sunday online and on “60 Minutes, ” is scheduled to testify on Tuesday in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users. “Today’s outage brought our reliance on Facebook — and its properties like WhatsApp and Instagram — into sharp relief, ” said Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor of communications at Cornell University. “The abruptness of today’s outage highlights the staggering level of precarity that structures our increasingly digitally mediated work economy. ”When the outage began on Monday morning, Facebook and Instagram users quickly turned to Twitter to lament and poke fun at their inability to use the apps. The hashtag #facebookdown also started trending. Memes about the incident a real toll soon emerged, because many people worldwide rely on the apps to conduct their daily lives. “With Facebook being down we’re losing thousands in sales, ” said Mark Donnelly, a start-up founder in Ireland who runs HUH Clothing, a fashion brand focused on mental health that uses Facebook and Instagram to reach customers. “It may not sound like a lot to others, but missing out on four or five hours of sales could be the difference between paying the electricity bill or rent for the month. ”Samir Munir, who owns a food-delivery service in Delhi, said he was unable to reach clients or fulfill orders because he runs the business through his Facebook page and takes orders via WhatsApp. “Everything is down, my whole business is down, ” he uglas Veney, a gamer in Cleveland who goes by GoodGameBro and who is paid by viewers and subscribers on Facebook Gaming, said, “It’s hard when your primary platform for income for a lot of people goes down. ” He called the situation “scary. ”Inside Facebook, workers also scrambled because their internal systems stopped functioning. The company’s global security team “was notified of a system outage affecting all Facebook internal systems and tools, ” according to an internal memo sent to employees and shared with The New York Times. Those tools included security systems, an internal calendar and scheduling tools, the memo said. Employees said they had trouble making calls from work-issued cellphones and receiving emails from people outside the company. Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also taken out, leaving many unable to do their jobs. Some turned to other platforms to communicate, including LinkedIn and Zoom as well as Discord chat Facebook employees who had returned to working in the office were also unable to enter buildings and conference rooms because their digital badges stopped working. Security engineers said they were hampered from assessing the outage because they could not get to server areas. Facebook’s global security operations center determined the outage was “a HIGH risk to the People, MODERATE risk to Assets and a HIGH risk to the Reputation of Facebook, ” the company memo said. A small team of employees was soon dispatched to Facebook’s Santa Clara data center to try a “manual reset” of the company’s servers, according to an internal veral Facebook workers called the outage the equivalent of a “snow day, ” a sentiment that was publicly echoed by Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebook’s early days, the site experienced occasional outages as millions of new users flocked to the network. Over the years, it spent billions of dollars to build out its infrastructure and services, spinning up enormous data centers in cities including Prineville, Ore., and Fort company has also been trying to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for several Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company that helps direct traffic to Facebook, said in an interview that his company became aware of the outage early on and saw the incident’s scope. He described the issue as a “misconfiguration. ”“It was as if Facebook just said, ‘Goodbye, we’re leaving now, ’” he Mac, Nicole Perlroth and Kellen Browning contributed reporting.
Facebook is back online after a massive outage that also took …
Just as Facebook’s Antigone Davis was live on CNBC defending the company over a whistleblower’s accusations and its handling of research data suggesting Instagram is harmful to teens, its entire network of services suddenly went offline.
The outage started just before noon ET and took nearly six hours before it was resolved. This is the worst outage for Facebook since a 2019 incident took its site offline for more than 24 hours, as the downtime hit hardest on the small businesses and creators who rely on these services for their income.
Facebook issued an explanation for the outage on Monday evening, saying that it was due to a configuration issue. On Tuesday afternoon, Facebook engineers offered more detail, explaining that the company’s backbone connection between data centers shut down during routine maintenance, which caused the DNS servers to go offline. These two factors combined in making the problem more difficult to fix, and they help explain why services were offline for so long.
was flashing a 5xx Server Error message, while the Facebook site merely told us that something went wrong. The problem also affected its virtual reality arm, Oculus. Users could load games they already have installed, and the browser works, but social features or installing new games didn’t.
After failing all tests for most of Monday, a test of ISP DNS servers via showed most of them successfully finding a route to at 5:30PM ET. A few minutes later, we were able to start using Facebook and Instagram normally; however, it may take time for the DNS fixes to reach everyone.
On Twitter, Facebook communications exec Andy Stone says, “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 apologize for any inconvenience. ” Mike Schroepfer, who will step down from his post as CTO next year, tweeted, “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible. ”
Inside Facebook, the outage broke nearly all of the internal systems employees use to communicate and work. Several employees told The Verge they resorted to talking through their work-provided Outlook email accounts, though employees can’t receive emails from external addresses. Employees who were logged into work tools such as Google Docs and Zoom before the outage can still use those, but any employee who needs to log in with their work email was blocked.
On Monday we learned that Facebook engineers were sent to the company’s US data centers to try and fix the problem, according to two people familiar with the situation.
*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now. We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible— Mike Schroepfer (@schrep) October 4, 2021
A peek at Down Detector (or your Twitter feed) reveals the problems were widespread. While it’s unclear exactly why the platforms were unreachable for so many people, their DNS records show that, like last week’s Slack outage, the problem is apparently DNS (it’s always DNS).
Cloudflare senior vice president Dane Knecht notes that Facebook’s border gateway protocol routes — BGP helps networks pick the best path to deliver internet traffic — were suddenly “withdrawn from the internet. ” While some have speculated about hackers, or an internal protest over the whistleblower testifying before Congress, Facebook has blamed the problem on a bug that occurred during routine maintenance.
Update October 4th, 3:37PM ET: Added additional information about the outage.
Update October 4th, 4:15PM ET: Added statement from Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, along with internal Facebook updates.
Update October 4th, 5PM ET: Noted outage is still ongoing, added information about the 2019 outage.
Update October 4th, 5:35PM ET: DNS updates suggest Facebook is closing in on a solution.
Update October 4th, 6:08PM ET: is back online.
Update October 4th, 10:29PM ET: Added information about Facebook’s explanation.
Update October 5th, 2:29PM ET: Added more background details on the backbone network problem that caused the outage.
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