Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp coming back online after global outage


Facebook and Facebook-owned apps Instagram and WhatsApp were starting to come back online Monday after being hit by an outage affecting users around the world.

Users reported being unable to log into any of the services a little before noon eastern time on Monday. Facebook posted a message to Twitter around 6:30 p.m. reporting success in restoring access.

The website Downdetector, which collates complaints about web outages, said there were more than 30,000 Canadians complaining about an outage. Instagram logged 21,000 reports of outages, while there were at least 14,000 reports about WhatsApp in Canada alone.

Reports of similar outages emerged throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia.

About 30 minutes after it began, Facebook acknowledged the outage in a tweet, saying that around the world some “people are having trouble accessing Facebook app. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

While the company did not disclose the reason for the outage, Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for network technology firm Kentik Inc., said it appears to be related to the Domain Name System (DNS), which routes internet traffic to where it is supposed to go.

A DNS server is how an internet user typing in a text-based website address such as Facebook.com gets sent to the correct numerical IP address.

Facebook would be in charge of its own DNS service, but Madory says the routes being made available to its sites for its networking partners have been withdrawn, resulting in a “near complete global outage” of all Facebook properties for more than four hours.

Facebook acknowledged Monday that around the world some people were having trouble accessing its app. Facebook and Facebook-owned apps Instagram and WhatsApp were affected by the outage. (Thomas White/Reuters)

No evidence of malicious activity

Cybersecurity analyst Ritesh Kotak says it is unlikely that the outage was the result of a hack on the company by outside forcers. 

“I’m assuming it’s user error but … we don’t really know from a technical standpoint what’s happened here, if there was any malicious intent,” he said in an interview with CBC News.

A similar DNS outage was to blame when problems at networking company Akamai wiped out internet traffic to thousands of websites around the world this summer.

There was no evidence as of Monday afternoon that malicious activity was involved.

Matthew Prince, CEO of the internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare, tweeted that “nothing we’re seeing related to the Facebook services outage suggests it was an attack.”

Prince said the most likely explanation was that Facebook mistakenly knocked itself off the internet during maintenance.

The outage comes as the social media giant is once again coming under intense scrutiny for the way it does business.

Last week, it halted plans to develop a version of its photo and video sharing app Instagram designed specifically for children.

Then over the weekend, a former manager blew the whistle on the company’s involvement in feeding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, will tell her story to U.S. lawmakers tomorrow.

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