Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp experienced global outages Monday afternoon, crashing and remaining down for users worldwide. Though no official reason has been provided, some have suspected it was caused by changed Domain Name System (DNS) records that only Facebook is in control of.
Downdetector.com, an outage tracking website, showed the outages began just after 11 a.m. EST. As of 5 p.m., the Facebook-owned properties were still experiencing issues.
Just before 4 p.m., Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer tweeted, “Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now. We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible”
The Chief Technology Officer at American Military News said he has personally witnessed “accidents like this one occur multiple times” but added he has “never seen one last this long, as this sort of problem is usually managed within minutes once the error is understood.”
“It’s being reported that Facebook employees can’t access the building (which is now required, since Facebook engineers have no remote access) due to IoT items like building entry systems being offline,” the CTO said. “That tells me this problem could likely last much longer.”
He said reports suggesting the outages are due to “malicious external behavior” are false.
“Todays outage appears to be solely related to the accidental removal of it’s BGP routes from the global routing infrastructure,” he continued. “BGP (border gateway protocol) is a mechanism by which routers across the planet share information with each other about where IP addresses live on the internet. If those routes are withdrawn, nothing in the world knows where the IP addresses are, therefore, they are effectively ‘gone.'”
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone acknowledged the situation on Twitter, writing, “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.”
Nearly an hour after the outage started, Facebook tweeted that the company is aware of the issues.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” the tech giant tweeted. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Independent investigative journalist Brian Krebs wrote on Twitter that the outage occurred because “DNS records…got withdrawn this morning.”
“Confirmed: The DNS records that tell systems how to find [Facebook] or [Instagram] got withdrawn this morning from the global routing tables,” Krebs tweeted. “Can you imagine working at FB right now, when your email no longer works & all your internal FB-based tools fail?”
“We don’t know why this change was made,” he continued in a separate tweet. “It could well have been the result of an internal system wide change or update that went awry. It’s all speculation at this point why. FB alone is in control over its DNS records.”
New York Times tech reporter Sheera Frenkel said she spoke with a Facebook employee who said employees are unable to enter the company’s buildings due to the outage.
“Was just on phone with someone who works for FB who described employees unable to enter buildings this morning to begin to evaluate extent of outage because their badges weren’t working to access doors,” Frenkel said.
Minutes after Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp stopped working, major cell phone companies AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile also reportedly experienced outages, impacting tens of thousands of users, according to Metro.
The outlet stated that customers were unable to use cellular data, but could still connect to the internet through WiFi. Users were also able to send text messages and make phone calls.
The Daily Mail reported that the outages are primarily in US cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, California and Dallas.
The outage comes one day after Frances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, revealed her identity after providing The Wall Street Journal with internal documents last month that she says exposed the company’s decision to choose “profit over safety.”
“Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said during an interview with 60 Minutes, which aired on Sunday.
Haugen accused Facebook of not doing enough to combat what she reportedly characterized as “hate, violence and misinformation.” The so-called “whistleblower” advocated for federal oversight and regulations that would force the social media giant to censor more content. The 60 Minutes special noted that Haugen said she “lost a friend to online conspiracy theories.”