Facebook and all its apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, went down all at the same time on Monday, taking out a vital communications platform reportedly used by more than three billion people around the world.
Facebook’s apps — which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Oculus — began displaying error messages around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time, users reported. Within five minutes, Facebook had disappeared from the internet. Hours later, the sites were still not functioning, according to Downdetector, which monitors web traffic and site activity.
Technology outages are not uncommon, but to have so many apps go dark from the world’s largest social media company at the same time was highly unusual. Facebook’s last significant outage was in 2019, when a technical error affected its sites for 24 hours, in a reminder that even the most powerful internet companies can still be crippled by a snafu.
This time, the cause of the outage remained unclear. Several hours into the incident, Facebook’s security experts were still trying to identify the root issue, according to an internal memo and employees briefed on the matter.
Two members of its security team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said it was unlikely that a cyberattack had taken place because one hack was unlikely to affect so many apps at once.
An outside hack was viewed as less likely. A massive denial-of-service attack that could overwhelm one of the world’s most popular sites, on the other hand, would require either coordination among powerful criminal groups or a very innovative technique. Facebook acknowledged users were having trouble accessing its apps but did not provide any specifics about the nature of the problem or how many were affected by the outage.
“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” Facebook said.
Shares of Facebook, which has nearly 2 billion daily active users, fell 5.5% in afternoon trading on Monday, inching towards its worst day in nearly a year.
The outage, which hit the social media giant’s platforms minutes before noon, comes a day after a Facebook whistleblower accused the firm of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation, and said her lawyers have filed at least eight complaints with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The complaint has led to two members of the European parliament calling for an investigation into the allegations.
It is reported that Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has fallen by more than $7 billion in just a few hours, knocking him down a notch on the list of the world’s richest people, after a whistleblower came forward and outages took Facebook Inc.’s flagship products offline.
This is the longest Facebook has ever been offline. We’ll see what happens next.