[UPDATE, 6:10 p.m. ET: Facebook appeared to have resolved the network issues that caused the six-hour-plus outages.]
Facebook and Instagram users reported widespread outages Monday, as the social media giant appeared to be again experiencing serious technical problems. The company’s WhatsApp and Messenger apps also were down, per user reports.
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The company, in the spotlight over accusations by a whistleblower that the company prioritized profits over safety, saw its flagship Facebook app as well as Instagram and other apps go down for many users Monday before noon ET.
On Facebook’s website, an error message Monday said, “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can” and the Facebook app was not loading some content. Instagram’s site displayed a “5xx Server Error” and its app showed an error message that said, “Couldn’t refresh feed.” In addition, users of Facebook and Instagram were unable to post anything to the respective services during the outage.
U.S. user reports of problems with Facebook and Instagram started to spike around 11:35 a.m. ET Monday, according to monitoring service DownDetector. Outages were also reported by users in other countries around the same time, per DownDetector.
In a message posted to Facebook’s main account on Twitter at 12:22 p.m. ET, the company said, “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.”
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.
— Facebook (@Facebook) October 4, 2021
Instagram’s PR account on Twitter posted shortly afterward, “Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we’re on it! #instagramdown.”
The cause of the outages across Facebook’s apps appeared to be related to a configuration change in the company’s domain name system (DNS) entries. The DNS is a critical piece of the internet’s infrastructure that translates human-readable names (like variety.com) into numeric IP addresses for computing devices.
According to cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs, the DNS records for facebook.com and instagram.com “got withdrawn this morning from the [internet’s] global routing tables,” he wrote in a tweet. Krebs added that the reason for the DNS change is unknown at this point, saying it “could well have been the result of an internal, system-wide change or update that went awry.”
Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, who has announced that he plans to step down from the post in 2022, said in a tweet Monday afternoon, “*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.”
For June 2021, Facebook reported 1.91 billion daily active users for its flagship app, up 7% year over year. Daily users across all of the company’s family of apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) averaged 2.76 billion for the month of June 2021, up 12% on an annual basis.
As is the case when major internet services have a significant outage, people took to social media — in this case, that was Twitter — to comment, complain and share memes. “hello literally everyone,” @Twitter posted after the Facebook services went down.
Netflix, for one, took the opportunity to promote its latest smash hit, Korean survival drama series “Squid Game,” with a meme pegged to the show:
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