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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Network Outage: When Big Tech Fails

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Why did the social media apps owned by Facebook stop working last night?  Here are 4 good reasons that may explain a global big tech network outage. 

Last night, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook had all gone down in a worldwide outage at 08.00 pm. In Mauritius, sometime around 6 pm, people were having difficulty to log in Facebook.

In an attempt to engage and reassure users, Facebook tweeted the following message:

“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing Facebook app.

“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologise for any inconvenience.”

The three apps are all owned by Facebook, and run on shared infrastructure – all completely stopped working shortly before 8 pm in Mauritius. Other products, part of the same family of apps, such as Facebook Workplace and Facebook Messenger, also stopped working.

Many users of the three social media platforms reported that they saw an error page or a message that their browser could not connect. In Mauritius, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps continued to work but did not show new content, including any messages sent or received during the problems.

According to Suren Paupamah, Network Security Consultant, “the fact that the three apps are experiencing downtime at the same time possibly points to the fact that the problem originates from their shared infrastructure.”

Our expert identifies four possibilities as to what may have happened:

  1. The Server is Down: When navigating these websites, a server error appears. Instagram, for example, shows a “5xx server error”, which indicates an issue with Facebook’s servers. Users attempting to navigate Facebook.com met with an unlikely message providing solid evidence of a Domain Name Server (DNS) failure.
  2. Configuration Change: The most recent major Facebook network outage goes back to March 2019. The company issued a public statement that said that the problem resulted from a server configuration change.
  3. Content Delivery Network Failure: In July 2021, a temporary interruption at Akamai, a global content delivery network, caused a worldwide outage for as many as 29,000 websites. The company handles 15-30% of the total web traffic. A host of services ranging from Amazon to Zamato were out of service.
  4. Internet Attacks: Although internet giants rarely admit to being subject to attacks, the worldwide IT community has consistently warned about the risks of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on big tech.
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