On October 4, Facebook Inc (FB.O) experienced nearly a six-hour outage, which it blamed on a “faulty configuration change” that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
In a late Monday blog post, the company did not specify who executed the configuration change and whether it was planned. Earlier, several Facebook employees who declined to be named had told Reuters that they believed the outage was caused by an internal mistake in how internet traffic is routed to its systems.
The employees said that the failures of internal communication tools and other resources that depend on that same network to work compounded the error. Either an inadvertent mistake or sabotage by an insider was both plausible, security experts have said. Facebook said in the blog:
“We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change.”
The web monitoring group Downdetector concluded that the Facebook outage is the largest ever tracked. The outage was the second blow to the social media giant in as many days following a whistleblower on Sunday accusing the company of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation.
Shares of Facebook fell 4.9%, their biggest drop since last November, as the world flocked to competing apps such as Twitter and TikTok amid a broader selloff in technology stocks on Monday. Shares rose about half a percent in after-hours trade following the resumption of service. Facebook Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, tweeted:
“To every small and large business, family, and an individual who depends on us, I’m sorry. It may take some time to get to 100%.”
The director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Jonathan Zittrain, also tweeted:
“Facebook basically locked its keys in its car.”
The reported higher-than-normal usage by Twitter on Monday led to some issues in people accessing posts and direct messages.
Netflix, the video streaming company, in one of the day’s most popular tweets, shared a meme from its new hit show “Squid Game” captioned “When Instagram & Facebook are down,” that showed a person labeled “Twitter” holding up a character on the verge of falling labeled “everyone.”
A member, inside a Facebook group for ad buyers, Wisecracked, after service returned that “lots of people searched today ‘how to run Google ads for clients.'”
During the outage, Facebook, which is the world’s largest seller of online ads after Google, was losing about $545,000 in U.S. ad revenue per hour, according to estimates from ad measurement firm Standard Media Index.
However, past downtime at internet companies has had a little long-term effect on their revenue growth
At noon Eastern time (1600 GMT), Facebook’s services, including consumer apps such as Instagram, workplace tools it sells to businesses and internal programs went dark. Access started to return around 5:45 pm ET.
Despite Facebook acknowledging that users were having trouble accessing its apps, soon after the outage started, it did not provide any specifics about the nature of the problem or say how many users were affected.
The error message on Facebook’s webpage suggested an error in the Domain Name System (DNS), which allows web addresses to take users to their destinations. A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies Inc (AKAM.O) took down multiple websites in July.
Frances Haugen, who worked as a product manager on the civic misinformation team at Facebook, on October 3 revealed that she was the whistleblower who provided documents underpinning a recent Wall Street Journal investigation and a U.S. Senate hearing last week on Instagram’s harm to teen girls.
According to a prepared testimony seen by Reuters, Haugen urged the same Senate subcommittee on Tuesday to regulate the company, which she likened to tobacco companies that for decades denied that smoking damaged health. All eyes are now on Mark Zuckerberg keen to see what his next move and decision for the social network giant will be.