Facebook and Instagram suffer simultaneous blackouts
The world was offered a respite from crippling FOMO and democracy-destabilizing disinformation on Monday, October 4, when Facebook and other apps it owns – including WhatsApp and Instagram – suffered simultaneous outages.
As The New York Times reports, users started seeing error messages around 12 p.m. ET. Facebook has yet to give a reason for the outages, but members of its security team said it was unlikely to have been caused by a cyber attack. Whatever the issue, it appears to have impacted Facebook’s internal communications platform as well, preventing employees from communicating or doing their jobs (a pair of employees said it was like a ‘day of snow “).
One of the likely culprits appears to be a problem with Facebook’s domain name system, which web infrastructure company Cloudfare describes as “the Internet’s phone book.” Cloudfare CTO John Graham-Cumming explained to The temperature that Facebook was going through the equivalent of suddenly losing someone’s phone number, making it impossible to reach.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, offered an update, although he was ironically forced to do so on Twitter: “We are aware that some people have difficulty accessing our applications and products,” Stone said. “We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
As Facebook scrambles to get things to work again, some people / entities are certainly having fun. Twitter appeared to recognize a sudden influx of users, tweeting “Hello everyone,” while platform founder Jack Dorsey responded to a tweet suggesting the outage was so severe that the domain name of Facebook was actually for sale jokingly: “How much? (In a nice little reminder that every social media platform has serious problems, the retweeted user Dorsey quickly changed her display name to “@jack allows the Nazis to target my family.”)
How much? https://t.co/fH0zXw7rV9
– jack⚡️ (@jack) October 4, 2021
The outages on Facebook and its other apps come as the platform comes under particularly intense scrutiny. All the month of September The Wall Street Journal published a series of articles based on leaked documents detailing a range of issues, from evidence that Facebook’s 2018 algorithm change made its user base angrier to documents showing Facebook was aware that Instagram was particularly harmful to teenage girls.
Facebook is also facing an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission. On Monday, the internet conglomerate filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it lacked evidence the company had violated antitrust laws. The judge in charge of the case has until mid-November to respond.