Facebook, Instagram and What’s app goes through a black hole of several hours
FACEBOOK DOWN. While Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and several other services of the American giant remained down from 11am to 6pm NY time this Monday.
Facebook’s blackout pushed Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune down by US$5.9 billion on Monday, according to Forbes. As a result, the 37-year-old businessman slipped from fifth to sixth place on the list of the world’s richest people.
A worldwide outage
A worldwide outage of great magnitude hit the Facebook sites around 5 pm French time, this Monday, October 4, 2021. It affected many Western countries, including France, and particularly those in which these services are most used. The Facebook site and its app were obviously victims of an internal bug, which made the platform still inaccessible in the evening. On mobile, the app was still available, but it was not possible to upload any new content or send messages. It was impossible to update the news feed.
The Facebook outage affected many of the group’s services and platforms. Messenger, the message app linked to Facebook, but also the messaging service Whatsapp were also down Monday night. The Instagram app, bought by Facebook a few years ago, was also among the down services. Even Oculus, the virtual reality platform of Facebook, was down. An earthquake when you know that Facebook’s app network has an average of more than 2.7 billion daily users.
The first official reaction came from Andy Stone, spokesman for the group: “We are aware that some people are having trouble accessing our applications and products. We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for the inconvenience,” he tweeted shortly after 5pm French time. A message repeated word for word or almost on the official Twitter account of Facebook an hour later.
Where does the outage encountered by Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp come from?
The origin of the Facebook outage is still mysterious. If Facebook did not give any official explanation about the bug, several experts mention an internal problem, related to the routing system. According to Numerama, the problem could indeed come from the DNS, the “Domain Name System” which links your IP address and a website.
The cause of Facebook’s failure is “probably a misconfiguration or a code pushed to the network management system”, said a former security manager at Facebook to the American media Bloomberg, indicating that this kind of bug is however “not supposed to happen”. Quoted by The Verge, the vice president of Cloudflare, a company specializing in Internet security and domain name server services, noted that Facebook’s BGP (border gateway protocol) routes have been “removed from the Internet”. This “standardized outer gateway protocol” helps networks choose the best path to carry Internet traffic, in other words, to get the Internet user to Facebook’s data center.
According to a freelance journalist who took to Twitter later in the evening, the Facebook bug was related to “a routine BGP update that went awry, erasing the DNS routing information Facebook needs for other networks to find its sites.”
Facebook’s outage quickly fueled speculation about a potential hack or an internal protest. The group, regularly criticized, is at the center of a new crisis in recent days after the revelations of a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, former product manager at Facebook. She gave an exclusive interview to the program “60 Minutes”, on the CBS channel, this Sunday, October 3. Supported by internal documents, she accused Facebook of having privileged profit over the security of its users. However, there is no information to suggest that a malicious act is at the origin of the failure, the handling error seems the most likely hypothesis.
Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth was estimated at US$116.8 billion by the end of the day on Monday by the famous magazine. Larry Ellison, co-founder of the software company Oracle Corporation, has climbed ahead of the big boss of Facebook, with his fortune estimated at US$ 117.5 billion.
The web giant’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, also saw her fortune, valued according to Forbes at US$1.9 billion, fall by US$22 million after the outages on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger and accusations from a whistleblower regarding a policy of the organization.
The whistleblower is expected to testify before Congress on Tuesday to claim that Facebook chose “profit over safety.”
On the stock markets, the company’s stock fell nearly 5% yesterday to US$326.23. Since September, it has lost 15% of its value.