Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp were down for 6 hours yesterday

Yesterday, right before noon, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, went down. Facebook went completely dark for about six hours while Whatsapp and Instagram remained up but had no new content. Users could not make posts or send messages. This was the longest outage for Facebook since 2008. Facebook is facing increased and much-needed scrutiny following congressional hearings and the emergence of whistleblower Frances Haugen, whose segment on 60 Minutes aired Sunday. Haugen described how Facebook’s algorithm deliberately favors engagement, outrage and profit over safety. Facebook has not revealed why their services failed for so long. Tech companies reported that DNS services, which route users to websites through their domain names, were down. This seems to have been a targeted attack on Facebook as only their sites and apps were affected. (This is pure speculation. It’s also possible that Facebook’s DNS services were down for some other reason.) Here’s more, from CNBC:

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are once again accessible, more than six hours after users first reported a major outage that took the services offline Monday.

Some of the services are not yet fully functioning — for example, some users are still reporting problems posting new content to Instagram.

“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry,” Facebook said in a statement. “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 did not disclose what went wrong.

All three platforms stopped working shortly before noon ET, when the websites and apps for Facebook’s services were responding with server errors. Reports on DownDetector.com showed the outages appeared to be widespread, but it was unclear how many users were unable to access the apps.

ThousandEyes, a network monitoring service owned by Cisco, said in an email that the outage was the result of DNS failure. DNS, short for Domain Name System, is like a phone book for websites.

The outage marked the longest stretch of downtime for Facebook since 2008, when a bug knocked the site offline for about a day, affecting about 80 million users. The platform currently has 3 billion users.

[From CNBC]

Whatsapp is widely used in Europe and worldwide in place of standard data messaging, and many users were left with no way to reach friends and family. Facebook serves a similar purpose for countless people, who were cut off yesterday. What’s more is that Facebook employees could not even enter the buildings because their key tags stopped working. It was a scary wakeup call that even the largest tech giants are vulnerable and the stock market got hammered. Facebook’s stock dropped by 5%.

Twitter was online as all this was happening. There were some moments when it wasn’t refreshing, which was likely due to the influx of traffic, but it held steady. We’re mostly Twitter users on CB and there were so many memes and updates about this.


Photos are screenshots from YouTube

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52 Responses to “Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp were down for 6 hours yesterday”

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  1. Jenns says:

    Chrissy Teigan ended up returning to Twitter because she couldn’t stay off of social media for 6 hours.

  2. Laalaa says:

    Twice this year I have gotten so drunk I sent love voice massages to a guy who I have a weird relationship with, why whatsapp couldn’t go down then, I will never know.

    In Europe it is said that this wasn’t a hack, it was a mistake they made. And we communicate mostly via wapp and fb mess, so this was terrible, the world stopped. 😁

    • GraceB says:

      I don’t generally get into conspiracy theories but I do find it interesting timing that this happened just after the release of the Pandora report. I mean taking out all but one of the most commonly used platforms to discuss the event provides distraction and time, at the very least. Even if it was a hack, they’re not likely to admit it.

    • Cee says:

      Same in Argentina. I welcomed the respite from bussiness, though LOL

      If I wanted to get in touch I could just call people.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      It was totally weird. I ended up calling my husband on the landline, no WA gifs or messages lol

  3. Alexandria says:

    I’m not complaining, especially since I have WhatsApp work group chats. FB and IG offer no value to me.

  4. D says:

    I don’t have an FB account and only occasionally scroll Instagram so this was a non event for me. As per the news it seems to have created chaos for most of the world though, which is scary. It seems many smaller businesses rely completely on Facebook to run.

  5. jo73c says:

    I didn’t notice!

    • goofpuff says:

      I didn’t notice either. I use Microsoft Teams for work, google hangouts, and just regular text to chat with family. Makes no difference to me those things were down.

      I like instagram but am rarely on it. I hate facebook and never use Whatsapp.

  6. Imogene says:

    Ugh, I had such a productive day yesterday and at the end of the day I was like “wow, I wonder why I was so efficient and productive today” and then I realized. I’ve gotta delete my IG

  7. Becks1 says:

    I didn’t realize they were all down until they came back lol and I saw the headlines about them being down – I was on FB and IG during the day and saw that it wasn’t refreshing and I was just seeing the same posts over and over but I thought it was just my phone (I even restarted it) or our internet. I felt validated when I realized it wasn’t just me lol.

    • AmyB says:

      @Becks1 LOL – same!! I thought it was my iPhone too, and I was getting pissed at my internet provider, not realizing it was FB causing all this !! I didn’t realize they were all down, I just couldn’t refresh Instagram, and gave up after trying to restart my phone too ha

  8. Gil says:

    That is why I only use the iMessage app to communicate with family members.

  9. Lorelei says:

    Fb and Ig are ultimately pleasure tools but people are totally relying on WhatsApp for communication so it’s a sobering reminder we shouldn’t have everything just there.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      FB and IG are real business tools for many, and how they bring in income. It’s not just a pleasure tool.

      • Robyn says:

        Yep. This. Work was VERY stressful for lots of folks yesterday due to this widespread outage. Like “breach of contract” stressful if it hadn’t come back when it did.

        Is it a good thing that FB has the monopoly on critical communication infrastructure? Nope. But do billions of people rely on it for numerous things beyond “pleasure”? Yes.

  10. josephine says:

    Over the past few weeks or so I noticed that FB was all of a sudden pushing posts from super, super rightwing groups under the guise of “you might be interested in this.” It was a sudden change and a bizarre one since absolutely nothing I do on FB or nothing I “like” would suggest that I would be remotely interested in some weird little offshoot Republican group from Montana and the like. And the posts were really filth and misinformation. I truly use FB only to access some word games. I thought it was very strange and somewhat annoying so the news yesterday was not at all surprising. I’ll miss my word games, but FB has become pure garbage, and now it looks like it’s intentionally evil to boot.

    • Golly Gee says:

      You don’t have to give up word games. You can find free games all over the place — ios, android or websites if using a desktop computer.

    • JennyJazzhands says:

      Had the same experience. I’ve been blocking and reporting them as offensive because they are. Fb pushing that info would be the only reason for this to happen. There’s no algorithm that monitors a person’s use that would ever assume that I would want to see those hateful and racist memes.

      • josephine says:

        I assumed I was not the only one but that’s good to know. At first I thought it was some weird mistake that would correct itself but it did not and there were so many, and they were so awful, that it felt like it had to be intentional. So gross.

    • Erinn says:

      Keep in mind they’re not just tracking what you do on their platform – they’re tracking across other platforms as well.

      • Golly Gee says:

        Not to mention that people you know who use Facebook may have you listed in their contacts on Facebook thus giving them information about you without you even being on the platform. I tell everyone I know not to put my information or pictures on Facebook. Basically they have your information without your consent.

        I also use uBlock Origin on my desktop to stop them tracking me across websites. IIRC whenever you see a Facebook button on a website, they can track you.

  11. FancyPants says:

    Ahhh, it felt so good to not even notice until I saw it on the news last night because I deleted everything in 2017 [not-so-humble brag]. Zuckerberg was busy all day yesterday scrubbing all the 1/6 evidence from all his servers.

    • Dilettante says:

      This. They were busy scrubbing servers.

      • LaraW” says:

        FB has nothing to gain and a LOT to lose if they were to scrub servers for 1/6, especially during a huge ongoing investigation & prosecution. And losing access to their own building? That’s just embarrassing. The cost benefit analysis doesn’t add up for them to lose access to their own building, and any attempt to scrub servers would definitely be noticed immediately by the feds.

    • Jules says:

      Nah the whistleblower isn’t going anywhere, and she’s already said enough damning stuff.

  12. Izzy says:

    They’re claiming it’s an update gone wrong. That’s one heckuva screwup. I’m not buying it.

    • Erinn says:

      I mean it COULD be. The update could be shady but updates do have the potential to break things if the devs aren’t obsessively careful. And big companies often surprise me with how badly they organize and roll out updates.

    • a reader says:

      If you’re not buying it think again.

      I work in IT. The cause of this outage, as reported by Arstechnica yesterday, was a code upgrade on some network devices. The code upgrade caused a critical internet routing feature called BGP to blackhole all DNS trafffic for facebook’s network of applications, thus leading to the outage.

      This *exact* same thing happened at my job last weekend. A code upgrade on Cisco routing devices in the USA blew up BGP and we had to rollback all the upgrades.

      It really irks me to see people who have no understanding of technology leap to conclusions like this.

  13. mindy_dopple says:

    Newborn mom here and I didn’t even notice. I’m kind of happy about that, even though I use Instagram pretty heavily. I was busy with the baby and decorating for Halloween because the baby was finally taking a long nap. I even got to eat with BOTH hands!!

  14. Noki says:

    Its actually insane that one company owns all these platforms,imagine if Jack also agreed to sell twitter? And because these platforms were the first and best of their kind its very hard to move. Someone told me to switch to signal or telegraph and i just cant fathom.

  15. Marie says:

    I wouldn’t doubt if this was done on purpose in an attempt to bury the whistleblower news. If you google Facebook or Instagram, the top new stories are about the outage. All the news channels are only talking about the outage. The whistleblower news barely had a six hour news cycle.

  16. Jamie says:

    I am going to go with this was oopsie. Not sure if links allowed here, but there’s a good writeup on the Cloudflare blog explaining the technical details. I work in tech, and it’s unfortunately common for these kind of updates to go wrong. One mistake in a script and everything blows up.

    • LaraW” says:

      Lol you’re probably right. I just happen to have Russia permanently glued to my tinfoil tiara whenever anything related to tech blows up. Then again, if this were an attack, it’s so flashy and brings so much scrutiny to the cause of the disruption, while Russian cyberops seem to tend towards the “never knew it was happening for months/years.”

    • a reader says:

      Co-signed by another tech worker. Arstechncia had a great writeup as well.

  17. LaraW” says:

    My personal tinfoil theory: Russia. Especially taking out WhatsApp? I don’t think it was done to cover something else up. I think we’ll hear about what was compromised months, maybe years down the line. Cambridge Analytica and the targeted social media op by Russia was one that went on for two years before it was discovered.

  18. Rapunzel says:

    Businesses that rely on Insta and FB suffered, so this was a sad event. I do think it was just a genuine screw-up because it lost FB/IG money. The stock plummeted.

  19. Dara says:

    My Yahoo email account had no new mail during the outage, and they aren’t owned by FB.

  20. Esmom says:

    I was happy it was down as I am in charge of my employer’s FB and IG accounts and I loathe that part of my job. I have tried over the past year to convince them to move away from the platforms but my boss is pretty dug in on FB on a personal level, so she can’t fathom dropping it. Even though our engagement is so low. I spend a fair amount of time basically posting into a void. It is such a complete waste of time.

    I prefer Twitter. While it can still be riddled with disinformation, I feel like the discourse there is somehow less toxic than FB has become.

  21. Kath says:

    A lot of businesses in my country use Whatsapp to accept orders, sell and etc. They pretty much lost a full day of sales which was really harmful

  22. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Wow, had no idea.

  23. phlyfiremama says:

    Coincidence that it happened after the whistleblower went public?? They were wiping incriminating evidence


    I wish I knew more about businesses in countries other than the US, because my gut reaction is “people use WhatsApp and Facebook for business? Isn’t that unprofessional?”

    I’m afraid I’m ignorant about this. I guess Microsoft Teams and Google Chat/Hangout aren’t a big step up, but for me using social media in a professional landscape – unless you are in social media marketing – seems kind of sloppy on the face of it.

    • Lory says:

      Whatsapp is vital to many businesses because it’s a free service and has better encryption than the other messaging platforms.

      • Anoni Mus says:

        And it works on all Phones not just Apple, that’s why it got so popular in the first place. In my country it is the number 1 platform for communication and increasingly, business. It felt weird not being able to chat yesterday. Resorted to good old email and phone calls LOL.