Facebook says it is sorry for the widespread confusion and reveals why it happened

In this illustration taken on October 4, 2021, the logos of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are displayed through broken glass.

Given Ruvik | Reuters

Facebook has apologized for the widespread outrage that left millions of users unable to access Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger for hours.

“For all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we’re sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s confusion across our platform,” Santosh Janardhan, VP of Facebook’s infrastructure, said in a blogpost late Monday night.

The confusion, which prevented users from refreshing their feeds or sending messages, “due to configuration changes on backbone routers,” Janardhan said, without specifying exactly what the changes were.

He said the changes have created “problems” that disrupt the flow of traffic between routers in Facebook’s data centers around the world.

“This disruption of network traffic had an impact on the way our data centers communicated, shutting down our services,” Janardhan said.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp stopped working shortly before noon, while Facebook’s services websites and apps were responding to server errors.

After six o’clock in the evening, about six hours after the platforms went offline, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are now back online.”

He added: “Sorry for today’s inconvenience – I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with our caring people.”

The longest period of downtime for Facebook since 2008 marked this breakdown, when a bug pushed the site offline for about a day, affecting about 80 million users. The platform currently has about 3 billion users.

In 2019, similar disruptions lasted about an hour. Facebook has blamed a server configuration change for this confusion.

The confusion came a day after Whistleblower leaked personal internal research to both the Wall Street Journal and Congress, revealing itself before the “60 Minutes” interview. The journal first published documents in a series of stories revealing that company executives have realized the negative effects of Instagram among young users, and that Facebook’s algorithm has enabled the spread of misinformation, among other things.

Shares of Facebook closed down about 5% on Monday but they were up more than 1% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

– Additional report by Samantha Subin of CNBC.

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