Why Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are all down globally

  • Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all went offline Monday for users globally.
  • Even the company’s internal communication tools went offline, which slowed down its ability to respond.
  • Here’s what we know so far about possible causes of the outage.
  • See more stories on Insider’s company page.

Facebook and some of its most widespread apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, experienced a major disruption that affected users globally on Monday.

Some of Facebook’s internal communication tools were even turned offline, adding another hurdle to the company’s efforts to get its services back on track.

The outage even hit Facebook employees who were not directly involved in troubleshooting, leading Instagram chief Adam Mosseri to tweet that “it feels like a snowy day” for workers.

Here’s what we know about the interruption so far.

What happened?

Around 11:45 a.m. Monday, users around the world reported problems accessing Facebook apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook even via the Downdetector interrupt tracking site.

Facebook employees have also had trouble accessing internal tools and even physical areas within the company offices.

“Devs can’t access their apps online to push new builds, no documentation, nothing. All Oculus platform services are down. No avatars either,” a developer whose work includes Facebook platforms told Insider.

Facebook security staff were also slowed from assessing the incident because their digital badges stopped working and prevented them from accessing Facebook’s servers, according to The New York Times.

Other Facebook employees were shut out of IoT-affiliated conference rooms, NBC News reporter Kevin Collier tweeted.

What may have caused the interruption?

Although it’s early – and even Facebook is still looking at the problem – Facebook employees and internet experts outside the company have shared some initial theories.

A cyber attack was probably not to blame, two Facebook security team members told The New York Times because it would have been difficult for a single attack to target the wide range of underlying technologies that were affected during the outage.

One possibility is a problem with the Facebook-powered servers that are responsible for telling Internet users where to find its content.

CloudFlare CTO John Graham-Cumming tweeted that “Facebook and related properties disappeared from the Internet in a barrage of BGP updates.”

CloudFlare describes the BGP, or Border Gateway Protocol, as “the Internet Postal Service … responsible for looking at all the available paths that data can travel and choosing the best route.”

Just before Facebook’s shutdown, Graham-Cunning said, CloudFlare discovered “a large number of BGP changes (mostly route extraction)” to Facebook’s autonomous systems — basically the local post office branches.

Security researcher Brian Krebs also said the likely culprit was a mistake at the end of Facebook that caused his services to drop Internet maps.

“The DNS records that tell systems how to find http://Facebook.com or http://Instagram.com were withdrawn this morning from the global routing table,” Krebs tweeted.

“We do not know why this change was made. It could very well have been the result of an internal, system-wide change or update that went wrong. It’s all speculation at this point why. FB alone is in control of its DNS – registrations, “he added.

What does the company say?

Facebook: “We are aware that some people have 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.

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer also chimed in, tweeting: “* Sincere * apologies to everyone affected by interruptions to Facebook-powered services right now. We’re experiencing network issues and teams are working as fast as possible to troubleshoot and restore as soon as possible.”

Instagram: “Instagram and friends are having a hard time right now, and you may be having trouble using them. Carry on with us, we’re up and running! #Instagramdown”

WhatsApp: “We are aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment. We are working to get things back to normal and will post an update here as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!”

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