Thousands of users of Facebook Inc’s main social network and Instagram photo-sharing app reported having trouble accessing the services for a short stretch midday, the second time in a week they were out of reach for a wide swath of people.
More than an hour after apologising for the outages, Instagram said on Twitter that the situation was resolved. “Things have been fixed, and everything should be back to normal now,” the tweet read. “Thank you for bearing with us.”
As of around 3 pm New York time on Saturday, more than 36,000 people reported problems loading Instagram, and more than 2,300 users noted trouble with Facebook’s flagship app, according to website Downdetector, which tracks internet outages. The reports had mostly subsided by about 5 pm New York time, with complaints down to the hundreds for each app.
On October 4, the social network, whose apps have more than 2.75 billion daily users, suffered a broad global outage that lasted about six hours. The company blamed the downtime on a problem with its network configuration. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said snafu was unrelated to the connectivity issues a few days earlier.
What triggered massive outage on Facebook’s apps
Facebook Inc blamed a global service outage that kept its social media apps offline on a problem with its network configuration, adding it found no evidence that user data was compromised during the downtime.
“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt,” company’s engineering team wrote in a blog.
The technical issue took Facebook’s core social network, its photo app Instagram and its WhatsApp and Messenger services offline for hours, marking one of the longest and broadest failures in recent memory.
Facebook’s outage had a seismic impact, immobilising a suite of services that more than 2.75 billion people rely on daily to communicate, do business and consume news. It dominated news reports and sent people across globe scrambling to other apps and services in an effort to stay connected and informed.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg apologised on his Facebook page after the network had been restored. “Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about,” he wrote.
Facebook’s internal tools and communications systems were impacted by the disruption, adding to the challenge for engineers working to identify and resolve the issue. Its internal work product, Workplace, was also affected. Fixing the underlying problem involved visiting a physical server facility and manually resetting some servers, a spokesman said.
While it’s not uncommon for Facebook’s apps to have occasional glitches, they rarely last more than a few minutes. Downdetector, which monitors internet problems, said the Facebook outage was the largest it had seen, with more than 10.6 million reports worldwide.
The protracted outage was the latest in a cascade of difficult events for Facebook. A former employee turned whistle-blower accuses the company of prioritising profits over user safety. The former employee, Frances Haugen, also handed over thousands of damning documents to US lawmakers and the Wall Street Journal, which wrote a series of articles last month on Facebook’s struggles with content moderation and Instagram’s negative psychological impact on teenagers.
“Facebook became a $1 trillion company by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children,” Haugen will tell the Senate Tuesday, according to a copy of her prepared testimony. “I came forward because I recognised a frightening truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook. The company’s leadership keeps vital information from the public, the US government, its shareholders, and governments around the world.”
Millions flock to Signal, Telegram
Signal and Telegram, two private messenger apps, saw downloads and user sign-ups soar during the extended downtime of Facebook Inc’s network of apps and services.
Millions of new users joined the Edward Snowden-endorsed Signal, it said on Twitter. Telegram, whose functionality closely mirrors that of WhatsApp, surged 55 places to top the US iPhone download chart, according to Sensor Tower.
“Telegram exceeded the norm by an order of magnitude, and we welcomed over 70 million refugees from other platforms in one day,” founder Pavel Durov wrote on his public Telegram channel the day after. It marked a record increase in user registration and activity for the eight-year-old app.
Facebook suffered a six-hour outage that spanned its WhatsApp messenger, main social network and photo-sharing app Instagram, shutting out many of its 2.7 billion global users. The situation idled some of the company’s employees and prompted a public apology from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg after service had been restored.
Signal’s focus on privacy — expressed in its policy to not collect any data on its users and thus avoid situations where governments may pressure it to disclose personally identifiable information — has made it a favourite for secure communications. Telegram has also historically added millions of users in the wake of major WhatsApp
Snapchat the biggest winner in social media
Snapchat use surged more than 20% after Facebook Inc’s services went down for six hours, the biggest winner among rival apps during the US social media giant’s worst outage in years.
Snap Inc saw a 23% boost in time spent on its Android app compared to the prior week, according to Sensor Tower data shared with Bloomberg News. That led gains in activity on apps from Telegram and Signal to Twitter Inc and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok on October 4, the
mobile researcher said.
The service disruption, which Facebook blamed on a faulty network configuration change, hit small businesses and gave ammunition to critics, legislators arguing that the company has grown into an unwieldy monopoly that should be cut down to size.
Snap has benefited from a digital advertising and e-commerce market boom during the pandemic as companies of all sizes turned to social media platforms to reach customers who were stuck at home to avoid the spread of Covid-19.