Facebook apologized after it shut down for users all over the globe for several hours Monday.
WhatsApp and Instagram, which are owned the company, were also down
What was the problem?
The bottom line is that Facebook’s systems have stopped communicating with the wider internet.
Cloudflare explained that it was almost as if someone had taken all the cables out of their data centers and disconnected them all from the internet.
Facebook explained it a bit more technical.
According to the report, configuration changes made on backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between data centers caused problems that disrupted this communication. This caused a “cascading effect… which brought our services to an abrupt halt”.
Zuckerberg apologizes for the six-hour Facebook outage
So why can’t Facebook be accessed by everyone?
The internet is made up of hundreds of thousands networks. Facebook and other large companies have their own networks, known as autonomous systems.
If you wish to visit Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp, your computer must connect to their network using the Border Gateway Protocol. (BGP) is a type of postal service that allows for internet access.
BGP analyzes all possible routes data can take and chooses the best one to direct users to the sites they desire.
Facebook stopped providing information Monday morning that was essential for the system’s operation.
This meant that no computers could connect to Facebook or any other site.
How did it affect your business?
Failure of these key internet players had a ripple effect on people and businesses around the world.
According to Downdetector (which tracks outages), 10.6 million problems were reported in the world, the highest number ever.
Many people consider losing access to Facebook an inconvenience. It may have been a problem for small businesses in developing countries that do not have reliable means to communicate with their customers.
Some organisations that have staff working remotely from the pandemic are also using WhatsApp to stay in touch with their colleagues.
How did this happen?
Around 16:45 BST Monday, a flurry began claiming that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were not working.
This caused jokes about people’s ability to cope and mockery from Twitter rivals.
It soon became apparent that this was a serious problem – there were reports of chaos at Facebook’s California headquarters.
Sheera Frenkel is a tech reporter at the New York Times. She explained to the BBC that part of the reason it took so much time to fix was because the people trying to find the problem couldn’t physically get in the building to solve it.
We are not yet certain if the problem was caused by a software bug, or simply human error.
The conspiracy theories have been circulating already, with one example being deliberate foul play by a Facebook insider.
What has Facebook done to respond?
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was embarrassed and had to apologize to Twitter, a rival network.
Facebook Original post
Mike Proulx, an analyst at research company Forrester, says the incident raises concerns about how Facebook has brought together many of its technical operations in recent years.
It made them more efficient, but it also means that if one thing goes wrong, there could be a cascading effect (like old-fashioned Christmas lights, where one goes out and all go out).
Facebook has had outages in the past, but they were usually fixed within an hour.
This blackout is longer and more disruptive, and it shows the problem with Silicon Valley’s dominance in communications.
This raises the question of whether the internet’s operation should be left to a small number of large companies.
What amount of money has Facebook lost to the economy?
The biggest problem for Facebook will be its impact on revenue and stock prices. Ads were not served on Facebook’s platforms for six hours due to the shutdown.
Some estimates that the outage cost it more than $6bn (PS4.4bn) and its shares dropped nearly 5%.
This is a terrible time for Facebook’s reputation.
Today, a whistleblower who leaked many internal documents takes the stand in a US Senate hearing.
Regulators around the globe are also looking at it, asking whether it is responding appropriately to issues like misinformation and hate speech, or whether, as the whistleblower claims, it puts “growth above safety”.
Its technical capabilities are now also in doubt