Facebook and its properties, that include Instagram, and WhatsApp, are among the largest entities on the internet.
Every minute, businesses from around the world collectively spend tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook. In all, Facebook the company sees at least 400 new users every single minute, which then account to around 2 billion active users.
When entities as large as Facebook and its properties go down, people will definitely notice.
And this time, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world flock to social media apps and others to complain that they have no access to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Facebook the website cannot be accessed, while Instagram's website was showing a server error message. At times, when the two could be accessed, no content could be loaded.
The problem also affected Facebook's virtual reality arm, Oculus, in which users could load games they already have installed, and the browser works, but social features or installing new games didn’t.
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
"We are aware some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience," Facebook said.
Besides Facebook and its properties, others that also went down include T-Mobile / TMBLE Metro, Spectrum, Verizon, AT&T, Google, Apple, Cricket Wireless, Twitter, Telegram, TikTok, Snapchat, Zoom and Amazon, were all down together.
But most of them were brief, and unlike Facebook, which experienced continuous outage for hours.
Most functions of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram returned stable at least after five hours since the outage was first reported.
During the moments Facebook and its properties went down, the tech giant reported stock market losses.
As a result, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg personally lost almost $6 billion in net worth, according to Fortune's billionaire tracker.
The issue came less than 24 hours before whistleblower Frances Haugen was set to testify against the social media giant.
While it is extremely normal for websites and apps to suffer outages, a similar thing rarely happen on Facebook and its properties.
This is because Facebook is among the largest on the internet, and that it has a lot of resources to keep everything in tip-top shape. In fact, Facebook is sitting on a huge resource that is capable of reshaping the internet itself.
The company has been investing heavily in undersea internet cables and experiments as well as projects to deliver internet connection to places that are otherwise unreachable.
For these reasons, outage experienced by the likes of Facebook, can affect many things at a global scale.
During the few hours Facebook and its properties were inaccessible, lives were disrupted, businesses were cut off from customers, and billions of dollars are lost.
And even, some Facebook employees were locked out of their offices, because their digital badges stopped working.
Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also taken out, leaving most employees unable to do their jobs. Some turned to other platforms to communicate, including LinkedIn and Zoom as well as Discord chat rooms.
To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.
— Facebook (@Facebook) October 4, 2021
The reason for the outage was not immediately clear.
But later, the company explained that the culprit was changes that were made to its underlying internet infrastructure that coordinates the traffic between its data centers. That interrupted communications between the data centers, "bringing our services to a halt," the company said.
Facebook managed to restore the service after its team got access to its server computers at a data center in Santa Clara, in California, and reset the overall system.
The security engineers said the outage was prolonged because they were literally hampered from accessing the servers because the outage made their digital cards to stop working, preventing them to enter the server areas in the first place.
The company apologized for the outage. “We’re sorry,” it said on Twitter after its apps started becoming accessible again. “Thank you for bearing with us.”
"We've been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now," the company added later.
Facebook’s global security operations center determined the outage was “a HIGH risk to the People, MODERATE risk to Assets and a HIGH risk to the Reputation of Facebook,” the company memo said.
This is a clear evidence that Facebook and its family of apps are viral communications platforms. The outage that caused disruption showed how dependent the world has become on a company that is under intense scrutiny.
Facebook’s last significant outage was in 2019, when a technical error affected its sites for 24 hours.
John Graham-Cumming, the Chief Technology Officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company that helps manage Facebook's traffic, said that his company became aware of the outage early on. He described the issue as a “misconfiguration.”
*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
— Mike Schroepfer (@schrep) October 4, 2021