Australians waking up on Tuesday were hit with an outage across all of Facebook’s platforms, forcing the Mark Zuckerberg company to take to Twitter to share an update. While you might think it sucks being unable to doom scroll before getting out of bed, the outage couldn’t come at a worse time for the company currently dealing with a pretty bad PR crisis.
As Facebook’s own services were rendered useless, the company had to take to Twitter to tell users it was onto it. Facebook was beat to the admission by WhatsApp, which posted four minutes prior that there were issues with its app.
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.
— Facebook (@Facebook) October 4, 2021
The usual channels that Facebook typically uses to report platform issues were also knocked offline. These include the page where Facebook’s third-party developers publicly disclose potential platform issues as they emerge, and the page where Facebook’s own engineers do the same.
Facebook tweeted an apology at 9:33 am and its status page was updated at 9:48 am to say it was recovering from disruptions.
“We’re recovering from an earlier outage impacting all Graph API products, and services are in the process of being restored,” it wrote.
To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.
— Facebook (@Facebook) October 4, 2021
The Outage Cause Revealed
Updated at 2:00 pm AEDT.
At around lunchtime, Facebook said the cause of the outage was found and that services were returning to normal.
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication,” the company said in a blog post.
“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”
Facebook said services are now back online and that it was actively working to fully return them to regular operations.
“We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change,” it said.
“We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”
So What’s This PR Crisis?
If you aren’t aware, Facebook is currently dealing with the repercussions of its own actions.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal published an article that basically said the social media company knows precisely how toxic its own product is for the people who use it. Mainly teenage girls.
There was almost too much retort from Facebook, with the company first saying the Journal incorrectly characterised what goes down at the Mark Zuckerberg group, then clapping back again in attempt to further debunk the claims.
“It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls,” Facebook says in a blog.
But over the weekend, we learned how the Journal obtained those documents: A whistleblower named Frances Haugen, who spoke with CBS News’ 60 Minutes about the ways Facebook is poisoning society.
Fundamentally, Haugen alleges there’s a key conflict between what’s good for Facebook and what’s good for society at large. At the end of the day, things that are good for Facebook tend to be bad for the world we live in, according to Haugen. We’ve pulled out some of the most interesting tidbits from Sunday’s interview that highlight this central point, and you can read them over here.
Facebook Outage Hits Zuckerberg Where It Hurts
While his apps deal with the outage, the man himself is dealing with a personal shock. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has dropped by nearly $US7 billion (around $9.6 billion) in a matter of hours, knocking him down a notch on the list of the world’s wealthiest people.
Mark Zuckerberg's personal wealth has dropped by nearly $7 billion in a matter of hours, knocking him down a notch on the list of the world's wealthiest people, as Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram have all gone down.#facebookdown #facebookwhistleblower #DeleteFacebook imassage pic.twitter.com/cB6wlLdbTD
— Chief Erican, MBA (@EricanSA) October 4, 2021
He’s now sitting at sixth, with Elon Musk still topping the list. Let’s all shed a tear.
We’ll update you on the status of the outage as we learn more.