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 offices.
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 stabilize.
Even 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 devices.
Technology 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 it;s sites for 24 hours, in a reminder that a snafu can cripple even the most powerful internet companies.
This 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 them.
The 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.”
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
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. 3.33pm . oct 4 2021 Share this Tweet