All owned by Facebook and run on shared infrastructure, the three apps stopped working shortly before 5 pm. Other related products, such as Facebook Messenger and Workplace, have also stopped working.
At the time of writing, it is unclear what has caused the issue, although the company has suffered outages before.
In June and April this year, the social media giant’s platforms unexpectedly went down due to a “network configuration issue.”
Facebook down-live updates
The websites and apps for all of the services were responding to server errors. Reports on DownDetector.com showed the outages appear to be widespread, but it’s unclear if it impacts all users or just some locations. In addition, it’s server errors not currently known what’s causing the outage.
It marks the worst outage for the technology giant since 2008, when a bug knocked Facebook offline for about a day, affecting about 80 million users. The platform currently boasts 3 billion users.
Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer apologized in a statement posted to Twitter.
“Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook-powered services right now,” Schroepfer wrote. “We are experiencing network issues, and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”
In 2019, a similar outage lasted about an hour. But, again, Facebook blamed a server configuration change for that outage.
Major websites can also sometimes go down if content delivery networks, or CDNs, go offline. That happened in June, when one such CDN, Fastly, was down due to technical issues. That caused significant websites, including Amazon, Reddit, and The New York Times to go down.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” a spokesperson said. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Facebook’s outages happen relatively rarely but tend to be vast in their impact, not least because they affect three of the world’s biggest apps.
The company is often cryptic about the causes of any issues and does not tend to explain to them even after they are fixed. In 2019, for instance, it suffered its most extensive outage in years – and said only that it had “triggered an issue” during “routine maintenance operations.”
In a leaked transcript published in The Verge in 2019, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg noted that such outages are a “big deal.” Any problems can often lead people to start using competitors. Instead, he said that it could take “months” to win back trust and get people back on Facebook’s platforms – if they come back at all.
The three apps owned by Facebook and run on shared infrastructure completely stopped working shortly before 5 pm (noon EST). In addition, other products that are part of the same family of apps, such as Facebook Workplace, also stopped working.
Visitors to the Facebook website saw an error page or a message that their browser could not connect. The WhatsApp and Instagram apps continued to work but did not show new content, including any notices sent or received during the problems.
The Bottom Line
The outage comes one day after the whistleblower who leaked private internal research to The Wall Street Journal and U.S. Congress revealed herself ahead of an interview with “60 Minutes.”
The documents, first reported in a series of Journal stories, revealed that the company’s executives understood the negative impacts of Instagram among younger users and that Facebook’s algorithm enabled the spread of misinformation, among other things.
Facebook shares closed down almost 5% on the day.
A company spokesperson said that it apologized for the problem but gave no indication of why the outage began or how long it might take to fix.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” spokesperson Andy Stone said on Twitter. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
They posted the same statement shortly after on the official Facebook Twitter page.
Instagram also shared a similar update.
“Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them,” it wrote on its communications page. “Bear with us, and we’re on it!”