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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Worldwide outage at Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram


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WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have been hit by a major outage. There are many reports on Twitter from people in Thailand who cannot text. Reports are also coming from other parts of the world. WhatsApp confirms the problems via Twitter but does not say anything about the cause or how long it will take.

The first reports of the malfunction were made in the Netherlands between 5.30 pm and 5.45 pm. Facebook Messenger cannot be used either. People are switching to texting, calling or Twitter, which still works. “It’s been a long time since I’ve used old-fashioned texting. Works fine actually,” reports a Twitter user.

On March 19, Facebook’s services also suffered a major outage. That lasted about an hour. Today’s outage will therefore last considerably longer.

What exactly is going on with the social media companies of the American Facebook, the parent company of the services, has not yet been clarified. There is a lot of speculation in tech media about the cause. The problem is said to be centred around the so-called Domain Name System (DNS). This Internet address book allows computers to associate domain names with IP addresses.

In this particular case, it seems that the problem is even slightly bigger. Worldwide there is no way to find a way to Facebook’s servers in the ‘road book’ of the internet. On the large internet forum, Reddit people are puzzling how this is possible and there is someone who says that he is a Facebook employee who explains that it is a physical problem.

Tech expert Danny Mekić summarizes what is concluded on that forum: “It seems that the main connection to important Facebook servers is no longer available due to a software update,” he explains. “Normally you can then look into the data centre remotely with a special device to restore it.”

‘Not possible to fix from the outside’
But that seems to be the problem, as the Reddit forum also shows: from the outside it is not possible to fix the problem in the data centre and there are people in the data centre who do not have that specialist knowledge have a house. “It seems that there is a hardware problem in one of the main data centres,” says Mekić. “Such a specific problem that people from outside have to come to the data centre to solve it. There would be fewer people at work because of Covid, and it would be a very specific problem.” But, emphasizes Mekić: he hears it second hand, and the identity of the Reddit user cannot be verified. Facebook has not yet confirmed the rumours.

‘Hack unlikely’
Security experts tell Reuters news agency that the outage may have been caused by an internal error at Facebook. They do not rule out sabotage from within, but a hack from outside is considered unlikely.

Facebook’s apps are used by billions of people worldwide. In July, the company reported that there are up to 2.5 billion daily users.

Facebook’s stock is down five per cent today, and most of the decline came after the outage.

Facebook Netherlands cannot yet say what is going on and cannot provide more information at the moment, a spokeswoman said. “We are aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We are working to restore everything as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman said.

Internet outages are more common. In July, many websites were inaccessible due to problems at the American tech company Akamai, as a result of which sites of the police, Rabobank, ING and regional newspapers, among others, were inaccessible in the Netherlands. A month before, problems at the American company Fastly caused many frequently visited sites worldwide to temporarily were off the air, including those of newspapers such as The Guardian, The New York and Le Monde.

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