FACEBOOK and Instagram appear to be back up after a seven-hour outage that sparked chaos online.
The social media apps were down for millions of users for hours today in its worst global outage since 2008, while Twitter users were briefly affected, reports said.
Problems with the services, which are all owned by Facebook, began around 4.45pm BST (11.45am ET), according to online outage trackers, while, the Twitter situation emerged a few hours later.
At around 11.15pm BST Facebook and Instagram were back up and running for many users.
Facebook said in a statement on Twitter: “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.”
There were also reports of WhatsApp returning for some.
A total of 43 per cent of users experienced issues with WhatsApp – with 27 per cent saying they were unable to send messages.
It’s still unclear what caused the outages.
Hundreds of thousands of people reported issues with the social networking apps on the website DownDetector.
Google, Amazon, Spectrum, Verizon, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Apple, Telegram, and Cricket Wireless were also reporting outages. It’s not immediately clear if all of these tech issues are connected.
Tinder was also reported to be experiencing issues as of 3.37pm ET, Downdetector reported, leaving singletons in the lurch, while Twitter users were also apparently affected from around 3.29pm ET.
Many people are or were unable to access the smartphone apps and websites of the hugely popular services. Gmail outages were also reported within the past hour but the company didn’t detect any.
Gmail said “there are no disruptions with Gmail” in response to reports of an outage on Twitter shortly after 4pm ET.
Those attempting to open the sites on a desktop were reportingly being met with a black, white page and a message that reads “500 server error.”
The iOS and Android versions of the Instagram and Facebook apps opened but would not load users’ feeds or show them new content.
WhatsApp messages were not reaching their recipients, with sent texts sitting with a clock icon next to them to indicate that they haven’t been dispatched.
The White House was aware of the outages and monitoring the situation, Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this afternoon, while cyber experts revealed that Facebook had experienced a core network failure.
Twitter, which appeared to be working, referenced the situation at 1.27pm ET, tweeting: “hello literally everyone” on their official account, to which WhatsApp replied: “hello!”
“Thought this was supposed to be encrypted…” quipped Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in his reply to the messaging app.
The company’s initial tweet prompted a huge reaction from major US accounts, like Warner Bros (“good move”) and Burger King, who responded: “Hiya.”
“How r u handling the fame,” inquired McDonald’s Canada, while Reddit said: “hi.”
WHAT APPS WERE AFFECTED?
- Facebook & FB Messenger
- T-Mobile / TMBLE Metro
- Cricket Wireless
At around 1.54pm ET, Instagram replied, writing: “Hi and happy Monday” with a grimacing emoji an hour after confirming the issues on Twitter.
“Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them,” their statement read. “Bear with us, we’re on it! #instagramdown.”
Telegram says “users in some regions may be experiencing delays with messages or notifications” this afternoon.
There have also been reports of Twitter being down in Italy, with problems spiking around 8.30pm.
New York Times Tech Reporter Sheera Frenkel revealed that a Facebook staffer claimed they weren’t able to enter their workplace today.
“[They] described employees unable to enter buildings this morning to begin to evaluate extent of outage because their badges weren’t working to access doors,” she tweeted.
Earlier, Facebook’s head of communications, Andy Stone, tweeted: “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, Instagram, and WhatsApp commonly experience small individual outages, but it’s rare for the apps to all go down at once.
They run on a shared infrastructure, and other Facebook-owned services are also down, including the Oculus website and Facebook Workplace.
Previous mass web blackouts in March 2021 and July 2019 have knocked all of the company’s services offline for hours at a time.
On those occasions, Facebook blamed a technical fault on the downtime.
BUG OR ERROR
According to analyst Jake Moore, it’s likely the latest outage is the result of a software bug or human error.
“Outages are increasing in volume and can often point towards a cyber-attack, but this can add to the confusion early on when we are diagnosing the causes,” said Moore, a specialist at cybersecurity firm ESET.
“Web-blackouts more often originate from an undiscovered software bug, or even human error.
“Although these are increasing in frequency and require more fail safes in place, predicting these issues is increasingly more difficult as it was never thought possible before.”
According to DownDetector, Monday’s outage was affecting users in the UK, US, Australia, and countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Users shared their experiences of the outage on DownDetector, with one writing: “Can’t get on FB [sic] at all.”
Another said: “Facebook keeps crashing and saying check your Internet even though nothing is wrong with my internet.”
Over on Twitter, a concerned user wrote: “Anyone else noticing every Facebook-owned property (WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) is returning a 500 server error?”
Others took the situation a little more lightly, with one person tweeting: “Well I guess I’ll be getting some actual work done since FB and IG are down!”
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