Facebook is down, along with Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus VR

Just as Facebook’s Antigone Davis was live on CNBC, defending the company over a whistleblower’s allegations and its handling of research data suggesting Instagram is harmful to teens, the company’s entire network of services suddenly went offline. On Twitter, Facebook communications manager Andy Stone said: “We are aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We are working to get things back to normal as soon as possible and we apologize for the inconvenience. .”

A look at Down Detector (or your Twitter feed) shows that the problems are widespread. While it’s unclear why the platforms are unreachable to so many people, their DNS records show that, like last week’s Slack outage, the problem is apparently DNS (it’s always DNS). Cloudflare senior vice president Dane Knecht notes that Facebook’s border gateway protocol routes — BGP helps networks choose the best path to deliver Internet traffic — “have been removed from the Internet.”

Instagram.com flashes a 5xx Server Error message, while the Facebook site just tells us that something went wrong. The issue also appears to affect its virtual reality arm, Oculus. Users can load games they already have installed and the browser will work, but social features or installing new games will not. The outage is so severe that it affects Workplace of Facebook customers and, according to Jane Manchun Wong, Facebook’s internal sites.

What is DNS?

DNS, short for Domain Name System, is the service that translates human-readable host names (such as arstechnica.com) into raw, numeric IP addresses (such as 18.221.249.245). Without a working DNS, your computer won’t know how to get to the servers hosting the website you’re looking for.

However, the problem goes deeper than Facebook’s obvious DNS outages. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was also unavailable and its DNS services — hosted on Amazon rather than internal to Facebook’s own network — were functional. Instagram and WhatsApp were reachable, but instead showed HTTP 503 (no server available for the request), an indication that while DNS was working and the services load balancers were reachable, the application servers that should be feeding the load balancers were not.

There’s no word yet from Facebook on what could be causing the problem or when those sites, including Messenger and WhatsApp, will be back up and running, but we’ll update this article with more information when it becomes available.

Outage Updates

Update October 4, 3:37 PM ET: Added additional information about the outage.

Update October 4, 4:15 PM ET: Added statement from Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, along with internal Facebook updates.

Update October 4, 5pm ET: The outage is still ongoing, information has been added regarding the outage in 2019.

Update October 4, 5:35 PM ET: DNS updates suggest Facebook is nearing a fix.

Update October 4, 6:08 PM ET: Facebook.com is back online.

Update October 4, 10:29 PM ET: Added information about Facebook’s explanation.

Update October 5, 2:29 PM ET: Added more background information about the backbone network issue that caused the outage.

Source: theverge

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Published on
Oct 4, 2021
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