When something like Facebook falls off the internet, there are massive knock-on effects. For example, a site designed to tell you if services are down, called Is It Down Right Now, has struggled heavily under the strain of people trying to see Instagram status. Cloudflare, a company that runs a DNS service (DNS acts as a map for your web browser when trying to find a site and is also the likely culprit in major outages), reports that it should mobilize extra resources to keep up with the traffic of people trying to load Facebook (or Instagram or WhatsApp) over and over again.
If you need to check if other sites are down, you still have options. There’s the venerable DownDetector as well as Down for Everyone or Just Me (DFEOJM informed me that it’s not just me who’s having issues with Is It Down). I need you all to decide how traffic should be split between these two sites so that we do not crash them as well.
Now here’s the fun part. @Cloudflare runs a free DNS resolver, 188.8.131.52, and lots of people use it. So Facebook, etc. Is down … guess what’s going on? People keep trying again. Software is trying again. We are hit by a massive flood of DNS traffic asking for https://t.co/qq6U47Tjc6
-John Graham-Cumming (@jgrahamc) October 4, 2021
Of course with Facebook down, we all needed something to do with our time. Twitter’s official account (as well as Jack Dorsey himself) was happy to laugh at the situation, but every site has its limit. As a result, Twitter also broke for some users. The company’s status page says it had an issue with its API that has been resolved.
In the hacking world, there is something called a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, where attackers basically gather tons of computer resources and use them to generate lots of traffic to a website. If they have enough power, the site will crash – and it’s very likely what’s happened to Is It Down Right Now, except instead of malicious hackers, it’s half the internet accidentally overwhelming service through pure and simple cut will. I think this is what happens when Facebook’s status page goes down along with the rest of its services.
PS: there is a funny side effect that comes from many people who basically only use their internet connections to Facebook- many ISPs and mobile providers like T-Mobile, AT&T and more have also been reported as down even though their services appear to work fine. But because people can not access Facebook, they may assume that the problem is elsewhere.
Updated October 4, 15:56 PM ET: Added info on Twitter that is also experiencing issues.
Updated October 4, 20:11 ET: Updated to reflect the end of Facebook’s interruption.