Some Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Services Restored After Hourslong Global Outage

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Users had received error messages when trying to access the sites

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The disruption has disrupted communications both essential and mundane, cutting off small businesses from customers and slowing e-commerce in myriad countries. Some companies noticed their operations and revenues plummeting, while others sent out marketing pitches based on the services being bleak, outlining the extent to which Facebook has faced many controversies and challenges. – is at the center of daily life around the world.

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Users began receiving error messages when trying to access the Facebook platform shortly before noon ET. According to people familiar with the matter, the outage also caused widespread disruption to Facebook’s internal communication tools, including some voice calls and work apps used for calendar appointments and other tasks. People said that some employees were using Zoom to stay connected throughout the day.

In a blog post on Monday night, Facebook blamed the outage on a configuration error. Facebook said the outage cut off communications between Facebook’s data centers, causing disruption as the servers were disconnected from each other. The company said internal systems were also affected, making it difficult for company engineers to diagnose and fix the problem. According to the company, user data was not compromised.

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According to internet company Fastly, Facebook began restoring its networking services at around 5:20 p.m. ET Monday. About half an hour later, Facebook’s apps and sites started working again for some users, Fastley said. Because the outage was so severe, the return to full recovery was gradual, Facebook said. The company did not specify what caused the initial networking problems.

The outage appears to have been the largest in the company’s history based on the number of users affected. It’s the largest ever detected by DownDetector, with more than 10.6 million problem reports from around the world, according to a spokesperson for DownDetector’s parent company, which tracks website outages.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized. “I know how much you trust our services to stay connected with the people you care about,” he said in a Facebook post.

The outage affected small and large businesses that depend on Facebook in various ways.

Tricia Puleo, 52, who offers virtual Zumba classes to clients, said she was unable to reach her clients because social media is the only way they can find out time for her virtual class.

“That’s how I advertise,” she said. “It affects how many people I reach, how many people attend my classes and how much money I make.”

Some companies began trying to reach out to customers with suggestions or marketing based on the outage. Mott & Bow, an online denim retailer, sent emails to some users advertising clothing sales, with the subject: “Here’s a distraction while Instagram/Facebook is down.” Peloton Interactive Inc.

“So when those apps are down, let us know what mood you’re in and we’d recommend taking a class tonight,” he tweeted.

Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and president of Hello Alice, a company that helps various small-business owners, said using social media during the pandemic is a great way for small businesses to keep selling off products Was.

But she said the loss of communication resulting from Monday’s outage was problematic for both her and customers. “I would look at it like a social media natural disaster,” she said.

Twitter was flooded with comments, jokes and complaints from users of Facebook and its services on Monday. Hours after the outage began, Twitter wrote “literally hello everyone” in a tweet on its official account. Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey also tweeted his support for Signal, a rival messaging service, among other jokes. The company later acknowledged that replies and direct messages may be affected for a period due to the traffic it receives.

Corey Michaels, a full-time videogame livestreamer at Facebook, said he was streaming himself playing a new Amazon.com Inc.

Playing on stage for several hours when it went down. “I’m not in a panic,” said Mr. Michael, 36, who lives in Florida. “People who watch live streams have streamers they like. I’m sure they’ll be back.”

While the biggest tech companies sometimes go offline unexpectedly, the duration and widespread nature of the disruption is unusual for Facebook and all of its platforms, said Tom Daly, a networking expert who previously co-founded Internet company DN. . “They have a huge infrastructure with an enormous amount of complexity and they have to solve all that complexity in order to recover,” he said.

And while Facebook and Instagram are largely used for social reasons, WhatsApp is an essential communication tool for users around the world. The service has over two billion active users.

According to Facebook’s quarterly financial results from July, the social media company said it has 1.19 billion daily active users.

The outage comes at a time of investigation for the social media company. On Sunday, a whistleblower who provided the foundation documents for Businesshala’s Facebook Files series went public. Frances Haugen, Facebook’s former product manager, said she worked to help accelerate the turnaround at the company.

Facebook shares fell 4.9% on Monday amid a sell-off in the broader market.

Over the years, Facebook has built a complex worldwide system of data centers, software and networking gear to keep its vast international network running, but Monday’s outage began with a problem at a particularly sensitive point in this ecology. happened. . Like all companies that operate the network, Facebook uses an obscure technology called the Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, to tell other network operators where to find its servers.

On Monday, Facebook withdrew this BGP information, meaning Facebook was no longer disclosing the location of its own Domain Name System, or DNS, servers, which browsers and browsers use to find Facebook on the Internet. Used by mobile phone. Outside experts said the change essentially meant that the company and its services took on a vanishing task as far as the world’s networking companies were concerned.

Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at network monitoring firm Kentik, said the change made Facebook’s DNS servers unavailable, making its services—Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram—offline.

With the world increasingly dependent on Internet-provided technologies, disruptions due to Internet outages have become common.

Some Facebook services shut down sometime in March, and service was disrupted for several hours earlier this year at workplace messaging platform Slack Technologies Inc. Last December, a dozen of alphabet Inc. NS

Google services, including Gmail and YouTube, also faced disruption.

With many employees turning to cloud services and other connected platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ripple effects of the outage are more felt.

Talal Ansari at @Businesshala.com and Robert McMillan at [email protected]

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