Story by Cassie Clark / Contributing Writer
Photo by Toriana Williams / News Editor
Facebook and its apps, which include Instagram and Whatsapp, were down for five hours on Monday, October 4. The outage began around 11:40 a.m. eastern time, according to the New York Times.
More than 3.5 billion people use Facebook and its apps worldwide, and the loss of them was felt immediately.
Users flocked to other apps, leading to complaints of Gmail, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter slowing down, according to The Independent.
The Twitter Support account issued an apology for problems with the platform on Monday afternoon. The tweet explained that issues with seeing replies or direct messages were due to more traffic on the site than usual. Facebook also issued an apology on Twitter as their apps came back online around 5 p.m. on Monday.
The outage also affected employees in Facebook offices. Employees were unable to access certain buildings and conference rooms because their security badges were not working, Business Insider reported. Facebook employees were communicating via text message and Outlook email, according to Associated Press reporter Philip Crowther.
The outage was triggered by the system that Facebook used to connect all their computing facilities, referred to as the “backbone,” according to a blog post by Santish Janardhan, Vice President of Engineering and Infrastructure at Facebook.
Janardhan explained that in day-to-day maintenance, engineers must often take part of the backbone offline. During a routine maintenance job, “a command was issued with the intention to assess the availability of global backbone capacity,” Janardhan said.
This took down every connection in Facebook’s backbone network, leaving Facebook and its app unable to function.
Janardhan stated that Facebook has worked hard to prevent outside attacks and that “it was interesting to see how that hardening slowed us down as we tried to recover from an outage caused not by malicious activity, but an error of our own making.”
Middle Tennessee State University Freshman Tyler Jones thought the outage related to Facebook’s confessed whistleblower, Frances Haugen.
“The timing just seemed too big of a coincidence…I’m not sure why it would be related, but I just have an odd feeling,” Jones stated.
He continued, “It was weird though, not being able to get on Instagram for a while. Not to sound dramatic but I started imagining what it would be like if all social media went down forever, like an apocalypse sort of thing.”
“I don’t think it would end well,” Jones laughed.
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