Facebook and its Instagram and Messenger applications started working again after midnight Polish time, after more than six hours of absence from the Internet. It was the largest global failure to date for websites used by over three billion users. What happened?
Facebook crash It began on Monday around 17.40 Polish time, when Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp stopped being available online worldwide. Services started returning to functionality around midnight, though the Whatsapp messaging problems took longer than others.
The problem also affected internal Facebook networks or the company’s Workplace communication system, and, according to the New York Times, also the system of gates at the entrance to the company’s buildings.
On Monday night, Facebook posted a statement in which it apologized for the interruption in the functioning of the websites. “We sincerely apologize to all Facebook sites affected by the current outages. We have network problems and our teams are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem and get back up and running as quickly as possible,” said Facebook Technology Director Mike Schroepfer.
The cause of the failure was not a hacker attack – the New York Times reported, citing sources inside the company. In turn, the Reuters agency, citing the anonymous information of the company’s employees, said that the failure could have been caused by an internal error in the way Internet traffic was directed to Facebook systems.
As Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs reported on Twitter, citing sources in Facebook, the failure was caused by an incorrect update of the BGP protocol, the system controlling internet traffic. “The update blocked the ability for remote users to remove the changes, and people with physical access did not have access to the network. So it prevented both parties from fixing it,” wrote Krebs.
Facebook itself on the night of Monday to Tuesday reported that the main cause of the failure was incorrect router configuration changes. “Our engineering teams have determined that the problems caused changes to the configuration of the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers,” Facebook said.
Possible causes of Facebook crash
The crash was the largest and widest so far in Facebook history; It cut off not only over 3 billion users, but also companies that rely on corporate services and applications.
Security experts told the agency that an inadvertent error or sabotage by an in-house person was likely. “It’s amazing that Facebook has basically locked the keys to its car,” Professor Jonathan Zittrain of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center tweeted.
Breakdown, decline in value, accusations
The failure occurred at a difficult time for the Californian company. The Wall Street Journal has published a series of articles in recent weeks based on information from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, accusing the company of knowing, among other things, about the harmful effects of Instagram on children.
According to Haugen, Facebook has remained unresponsive for a long time, although it knew its algorithms fuel disinformation and hatred, and were also used by drug cartels and female traffickers. Monday’s crash also caused the biggest fall in Facebook’s share price on Wall Street in almost a year, almost 5%. As reported by Bloomberg, as a result of the decline, the estimated value of the assets of the founder of the website, Mark Zuckerberg, fell by almost $ 7 billion, pushing him one place in the ranking of the richest people in the world.
Main photo source: ANDREJ CUKIC / PAP / EPA