Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were down across wide swathes of the world Monday. Facebook’s internal systems used by employees also went down.
The company said it was aware that “some people are having trouble accessing (the) Facebook app” and it was working on restoring access. Regarding the internal failures, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted that it feels like a “snow day.”
The company did not say what might be causing the outage
, which began around 11:45 ET. It is normal for websites and apps to suffer outages, though one on a global scale is rare. Users reported being unable to access Facebook in California, New York and Europe.
Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for Kentik Inc., said it appears that the routes Facebook advertises online that tell the entire internet how to reach its properties are not available.
Madory said it looks like the DNS routes that Facebook makes available to the networking world have been withdrawn. The Domain Name System is an integral element of how traffic on the internet is routed. DNS translates an address like “facebook.com” to an IP address like 126.96.36.1990. If Facebook’s DNS records have disappeared, no one could find it.
Just as Facebook’s Antigone Davis
was live on CNBC defending the company over a whistleblower’s accusations and its handling of research data suggesting Instagram is harmful to teens, the company’s entire network of services suddenly went offline. The outage started just before noon ET, and nearly four hours later there’s no sign or restoration, and no one from the company has offered an explanation of the issues or estimates for when they will be fixed.
On Twitter, Facebook communications exec Andy Stone says, “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
A peek at Down Detector (or your Twitter feed) reveals the problems are widespread. While it’s unclear exactly why the platforms are unreachable for so many people, their DNS records show that, like last week’s Slack outage, the problem is apparently DNS (it’s always DNS).
Instagram.com is flashing a 5xx Server Error message, while the Facebook site merely tells us that something went wrong. The problem also appears to be affecting its virtual reality arm, Oculus. Users can load games they already have installed and the browser works, but social features or installing new games does not. The outage is thorough enough that it’s affecting Workplace from Facebook customers and, according to Jane Manchun Wong, Facebook’s internal sites.
Facebook and some of its apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, appeared to go down
at the same time on Monday for many users, who turned to Twitter and other social media platforms to lament the outage.
The social network and its apps began displaying error messages before noon Eastern time, users reported. All of the company’s family of apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — showed outage reports, according to the site downdetector.com, which monitors web traffic and site activity.
Outages are not uncommon for apps, but to have so many interconnected apps at the world’s largest social media company go down at the same time is rare. The company has been trying to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for several years.
Two Facebook security team members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said it was unlikely that a cyberattack caused the issues. That’s because the technology behind the apps was still different enough that one hack was not likely to affect all of them at once.
In a series of tweets, John Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said the problem was likely with Facebook’s servers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Computers convert websites such as facebook.com to numeric internal protocol addresses, through a system that is likened to a phone’s address book, Mr. Graham-Cumming said. Facebook’s issue was the equivalent of removing people’s phone numbers from under their names in their address book, making it impossible to call them, he said. Cloudflare provides some of the systems that support Facebook’s internet infrastructure.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, posted on Twitter, “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #facebookdown quickly started trending. Some users said they were miffed by the abrupt outage, while others poked fun at it.
Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also taken out, leaving most employees unable to do their jobs. Two Facebook workers called it the equivalent of a “snow day.”
Facebook has already been dealing with plenty of scrutiny.
The company has been under fire from a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who amassed thousands of pages of internal research and has since distributed them to the news media, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Facebook knew of many harms that its services were causing.
Ms. Haugen, who revealed her identity on Sunday online and on “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify on Tuesday in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users.
Ryan Mac contributed reporting.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” a Facebook company spokesperson told ABC News.
The Instagram and Facebook outages come shortly after a whistleblower came forward and claimed to CBS News that the company could do more to protect against hate speech and misinformation but prioritizes profits over its users.