Facebook Blames Faulty Configuration Change for Scary Outage
By Adedapo Adesanya
Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms are back online after a massive global outage on Monday plunged the services and the businesses and people who rely on them into chaos for hours.
Facebook said late Monday that “the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change” and that there is “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result” of the outage.
The company apologized and said it was working to understand more about the cause, which began around 04:38 p.m. Nigerian time on Monday, October 4.
The outage didn’t exactly bolster Facebook’s argument that its size and clout provide important benefits for the world
London-based internet monitoring firm Netblocks noted that the company’s plans to integrate the technology behind its platforms — announced in 2019 — had raised concerns about the risks of such a move.
While such centralization “gives the company a unified view of users’ internet usage habits,” Netblocks said it also makes the services vulnerable to single points of failure.
In a statement, Facebook’s only public comment was a tweet in which it acknowledged that “some people are having trouble accessing (the) Facebook app” and said it was working on restoring access.
Regarding the internal failures, Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted that it feels like a “snow day” while WhatsApp assured users that work was ongoing to return the app to its working ways.
Mr Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s outgoing chief technology officer, later tweeted “sincere apologies.”
In Monday night’s statement, Facebook blamed changes on routers that coordinate network traffic between data centres.
The company said the changes interrupted the communication, which had “a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”
While much of Facebook’s workforce is still working remotely, there were reports that employees at work on the company’s Menlo Park, California had trouble entering buildings because the outage had rendered their security badges useless.
However, the impact was far worse for multitudes of Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users, showing just how much the world has come to rely on it and its properties — to run businesses, connect with online communities, log on to multiple other websites and even order food.
It also showed that despite the presence of Twitter, Telegram, Signal, TikTok, Snapchat and a bevvy of other platforms, nothing can easily replace the social network that over the past 17 years has effectively evolved into critical infrastructure.
Twitter, meanwhile, chimed in from the company’s main account on its service, posting “hello literally everyone” as jokes and memes about the Facebook outage flooded the platform.
Later, as an unverified screenshot circulating on Twitter suggested that the facebook.com address was for sale, Twitter CEO Mr Jack Dorsey tweeted, “how much?” to further add to the jokes, later tweeting a SoundCloud link to Kanye West’s 2021 song “Off the Grid”.
The outage had its downside as Facebook shares lost more than 5 per cent while its founder lost close to $7 billion in riches.