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Facebook has explained the cause of an hours-long global outage affecting its services and apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram.
The company shared a statement where it apologised to those affected.
Many had speculated on Twitter about the cause of the outage. But it turns out that a configuration change and knock-on effect took down Facebook’s services.
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication,” Santosh Janardhan, VP of Infrastructure, said in a statement.
“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”
Janardhan noted that services are back online, but the company is working to return them to full operations.
The statement also added that there was no evidence that the downtime caused compromises to user data.
“We apologize to all those affected, and we’re working to understand more about what happened today so we can continue to make our infrastructure more resilient,” Janardhan concluded.
Facebook outage one of the largest tracked outages ever on Downdetector
Since Facebook owns so many popular apps, the effect of its systems going down impacted a huge number of users.
Luke Deryckx, CTO of Ookla, reflected this in a statement on Downdetector.
“The global Facebook outage is now one of the largest ever tracked on Downdetector in terms of the total number of reports (over 14 million as of 3:30 p.m. PDT) and duration; this is an extremely impactful event,” Deryckx said.
“The combined popularity of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger means that billions of users have been impacted by the services being entirely offline today.”
Deryckx also noted that the outage caused cascading effects on other services. This is because Facebook provides login methods for other services, as well as an advertising network.
“Any service that relies on Facebook for any part of its infrastructure will have experienced problems today to a varying degree,” Deryckx said.
The outage comes at a time when Facebook is under increased scrutiny. It is currently facing a US Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit.
Facebook has dismissed claims that it has a monopoly or dominant share of personal social networking services.
However, the Facebook outage has highlighted just how much of a share of the market it has.
Feature image: Timothy Hales Bennett/Unsplash