October 26, 2021

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Facebook’s back, but WhatsApp and Instagram still down in widespread outage – CNET

4 min read
Instagram is down
James Martin/CNET

Facebook is back up for some people, but WhatsApp and Instagram continue to be down in a widespread outage that has lasted more than six hours on Monday, disrupting communications for the company’s roughly 3 billion users. 

The three social networks — all owned by Facebook — started having issues around 11:40 a.m. ET, according to Down Detector, a crowdsourced website that tracks online outages. 

The company acknowledged that it was having issues shortly after noon ET, saying in a tweet from its WhatsApp account that it’s “working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible.” Similar messages were shared on the Twitter accounts for Facebook and Facebook Messenger

Hours later, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in a tweet that the company was “experiencing networking issues” and working as fast as possible “debug and restore” its services.

The outage — and the resulting reaction on Twitter — underscores both our dependency on the social networks and the love-hate relationship they inspire. Being unable to post on Facebook or Instagram elicited equal parts frustration and relief, with some relishing the break from being constantly connected to our digital lives. Ironically, it’s those very social media platforms that allow us to express our collectively mixed feelings about the situation. 

Outages are nothing new in the online world, and services often go offline or experience slowdowns. Facebook’s outage on Monday, however, was unusual in that it struck a suite of the company’s products, including its central site and WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging service used widely around the world. Facebook is deeply enmeshed in global infrastructure and the outage disrupted communications for the company’s billions of users. The website and its services are used for everything from casual chatting to business transactions.

It’s not immediately clear what caused the issue for the three properties. Security expert Brian Krebs said it appears to be a DNS related-issue, adding that something “caused the company to revoke key digital records that tell computers and other Internet-enabled devices how to find these destinations online.”

In addition to Facebook’s services and apps being down, some of the company’s internal tools were also reportedly impacted by the outage. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said in a tweet that it felt like a “snow day.

The Facebook outage appears to have caused a headache for Twitter, as well, with more people heading there after finding Facebook down.

“Sometimes more people than usual use Twitter,” Twitter tweeted Monday afternoon. “We prepare for these moments, but today things didn’t go exactly as planned.”

The outage creates another headache for Facebook, which is battling a massive public relations nightmare in the wake of a whistleblower’s allegations that the social network is aware of harm that content on its services causes. The allegations were detailed in a series of stories published by The Wall Street Journal based on research leaked by the whistleblower that said the company ignored research about how Instagram can harm teen girls and that an algorithm change made users angrier. 

The whistleblower, a former Facebook product engineer named  Frances Haugen, is scheduled to testify to Congress on Tuesday. She detailed some of her allegations in a televised interview on Sunday.

“Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” she told 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley.

As is often the case with outages, users flocked to other social networks to complain and also revel in the Facebook outage. Instagram and Facebook quickly became the top trending topic on Twitter in the US, and dominated other locations around the world as well. Twitter even got in on the joke, with the company’s official account tweeting, “Hello literally everyone,” and CEO Jack Dorsey asking “how much?” in response to tweets suggesting Facebook’s domain was for sale.

Read more: Funniest memes and jokes about Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram outage

CNET has reached out to Facebook for additional comment and we’ll update when we hear back. 

CNET’s Carrie Mihalcik contributed to this report. 

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