Facebook outage: What was the cause behind the WhatsApp and Instagram blackout?

Social media giants Facebook were hit by a six hour outage on Monday, affecting all owned platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, preventing access to users and employees.

First reports of issues circulated at 16:45 with DownDetector highlighting that these connectivity problems were felt worldwide.

The company has issued an apology to the 3.5 billion people who were unable to access the platforms, blaming a “faulty configuration change”.

Sign up to our LiverpoolWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As services have slowly been restored over the last several hours, questions have been asked regarding what caused the outage and why it took so long to fix.

Why did Facebook go down?

Facebook issued an official statement on Tuesday confirming that the cause of the issue was due to a configuration change to backbone routers, which are responsible for coordinating network traffic between the company’s data centers.

This caused widespread network issues for Facebook, bringing the social networking platform and everything it runs to a halt.

An update issued by the company broke how the site’s servers are advertised to the internet, using something called the Border Gateway Patrol (BGP).

The outages were caused by a “faulty configuration change” that stopped telling the routers where its data centers were located, meaning that the internet did not know Facebook existed.

Why did it take so long to fix?

Tech experts have stated that this is a relatively simple issue to fix, as you only have to advertise where your servers are and routers will begin to regain a connection.

However, it was rather unfortunate for Facebook who use the same network for staff to access the facilities remotely, meaning that they were locked out from fixing these problems.

Reports have stated that Facebook Workplace, the internal communication platform used by employees, also crashed.

Therefore, the only way to alleviate these issues was to physically enter these data centres and reset things from there.