Major failure: Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram gone

New York (dpa) – Around six hours without Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram: An unusually long total failure hit billions of users of the online network on Monday.

Facebook explained the disruption with an incorrect configuration change that caused the data traffic between the data centers to collapse.

The disruption was so difficult to get a grip on that, according to the New York Times, Facebook sent a team to its data center in California Santa Clara had to send to attempt a “manual reset” of the servers. It’s a bit like pressing the reset button on your PC at home because nothing works.

Facebook pointed out that internal systems were also affected by the failure – which is what caused it It took longer to diagnose and fix the problem.

The explanation is consistent with the assumptions of experts who assumed a fault in the network infrastructure. “To put it simply: The services of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are still there – but there is virtually no link to them on the Internet,” explained Rüdiger Trost from the IT security company F-Secure. “As if someone had removed the exit signs to the“ locations ”Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook on a freeway.”

In total, around 3.5 billion people use at least one company service every month, 2, 76 Billions even access it every day. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to users in a short Facebook post. WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart promised that we would learn from it.

The far-reaching consequences of the problems in just one company triggered new calls for the group to be broken up. The Democratic US Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that Instagram and WhatsApp would not have been affected if their takeover by Facebook had been prevented. “Smash them now,” she tweeted.

On Facebook itself, in addition to the internal communication platform, digital door locks in offices and other networked technology have also failed, wrote the “New York Times”. Two unnamed IT security experts from Facebook told the newspaper that a cyber attack was unlikely to trigger it. The online network officially declared that there was no evidence that user data was also affected.

The Facebook services were from around 18. 00 CEST no longer usable and went online again shortly before midnight. The technology boss of the cloud service provider Cloudflare, John Graham-Cumming, pointed out that users and software initially continued to try to access Facebook services again and again. This put additional strain on the rest of the web infrastructure.

With the Facebook blackout, the hour of Twitter struck – and the Facebook competitor was aware of this. «Hello everyone, literally», tweeted the account of the short message service, on which countless Facebook users romped about for hours.

On Monday, Twitter was full of jokes about how the disappearance of Facebook made everything better in one fell swoop made, up to world peace. “Hopefully Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp never go back on,” tweeted satirist Jan Böhmermann. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden took the opportunity to recommend the Signal chat app as an alternative that offers more privacy. Signal welcomed millions of new users on Monday.

For Facebook, which is currently under political pressure in the USA, the failure of several hours was a disgraceful culmination of already lousy weeks. Only on Sunday did the former employee Frances Haugen identify herself as a whistleblower and accuse the online network of putting profit above the well-being of the users. She was invited to a subcommittee of the US Senate for Tuesday. In her previously published statement, she called for more transparency in the software algorithms that decide what users see.

Faults that can be traced back to network errors occur time and again on the web. In July, for example, one of them ensured that numerous websites were temporarily unavailable. The centralization of the network infrastructure at large providers also ensures that the failure of a company can tear many services and websites off the network. At the beginning of June, numerous websites around the world were unavailable for around an hour after a cloud service malfunction.

Facebook had a large-scale outage in spring 2019 According to the group, it was due to an error in the server configuration. However, Monday’s disruption was exceptional in terms of extent and duration.

One question is whether the outage will cause Facebook advertisers to think about alternatives. Because many small businesses around the world rely on Facebook to attract customers. For them, the disruption meant lost business. The Central Association of the German Advertising Industry (ZAW) stated that such a failure could be compensated for a short period of time.

With the WhatsApp failure, many in Germany resorted to the tried and tested SMS. Deutsche Telekom recorded eight times more of these short messages than usual, Telefónica three times more.

Facebook shares closed on Monday with a minus of almost five percent. Even after that, the company was still worth around 920 billion dollars on the stock exchange. The personal fortune of Zuckerberg shrank according to calculations of the financial service Bloomberg within a few hours by more than six billion dollars. With still 121, 6 billion dollars, he slipped one place back to fifth place behind Microsoft founder Bill Gates. After the disruption was resolved, the price of Facebook shares temporarily increased by 0.7 percent in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

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