SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook and some of its apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, seemed to go down at the same time on Monday for many users who turned to Twitter and other social media platforms to lament the outage.
The social network and its apps started showing error messages before noon Eastern time, users reported. The entire company’s family of apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – showed reports of interruptions, according to the website downdetector.com, which monitors web traffic and website activity.
Interruptions are not uncommon for apps, but it’s rare that so many interconnected apps at the world’s largest social media company go down at the same time. The company has been trying to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for several years.
Two Facebook security team members who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak in public said a cyberattack was unlikely to cause the problems. That’s because the technology behind apps was still different enough that a hack probably wouldn’t affect them all at once.
In a series of tweets, John Graham-Cumming, chief technology officer at Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said the problem was likely with Facebook’s servers not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Computers convert sites like facebook.com to numeric internal protocol addresses through a system similar to a phone’s address book, Graham-Cumming said. Facebook’s problem was similar to removing people’s phone numbers under their names in their address book, making it impossible to call them, he said. Cloudflare provides some of the systems that support Facebook’s Internet infrastructure.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, posted on Twitter, “We are aware that some people are having difficulty accessing our apps and products. We are working to get things back to normal as soon as possible and we apologize for the inconvenience. ”
On Twitter, the hashtag #facebookdown quickly started to trend. Some users said they were confused by the sudden interruption while others made fun of it.
Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also taken out, leaving most employees unable to perform their jobs. Two Facebook employees called it the equivalent of a “snow day.”
Facebook has already dealt with lots of control. The company has been under fire from a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who collected thousands of pages of internal research and has since distributed them to news media, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Facebook was aware of many damages that its services caused.
Ms. Haugen, who revealed her identity online Sunday and “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users.
Ryan Mac contributed reporting.
This is a story in development and will be updated.