The three social media apps, Facebook Workspace and virtual reality platform Oculus, are all owned by social networking giant Facebook and run off the same infrastructure, meaning any technical difficulties could run across multiple platforms.
Facebook and its other major networks all went down at about 5pm yesterday, with visitors to the web pages being shown error messages. Those who access Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp on their phones would have been able to open the apps, but no new content would be able to load.
It is now believed that the sites are slowly coming back up.
Why is Facebook down?
Hours-long outages such as this are rare for Facebook, with the last one occurring back in 2019. The company has been notoriously secretive regarding the issues behind the technical difficulties, with the 2019 outage being explained as an issue triggered during ‘routine maintenance operations.’
It seems that just like 2019, the reason for this year’s outage is being largely kept under wraps. So far, Facebook has publicly acknowledged the setback, stating: ‘We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products.’
We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.
Instagram shared a similar update: ‘Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we’re on it!’
But, while the post let users know that a solution was on the way, it failed to mention how long the sites would be down or why they crashed in the first place.
While Facebook has so far avoided explaining the technical difficulties to users, TechCrunch believes they’ve figured out what’s going on, narrowing it down to an issue with Facebook’s servers:‘Instagram shows a 5xx server error’, which indicates that this is an issue with Facebook’s servers.’
It appears that the outage is caused by a DNS (domain name server) fail — this is the naming structure that forms the web’s infrastructure. So, if you try to navigate to facebook.com right now, the internet won’t know where to find facebook.com.
Is Facebook losing its customer base?
Leaked documents to The Verge in 2019 showed Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg stating that these types of major outages don’t come without a cost as customers may lose faith in the social media service in favour of competitors. The tech CEO revealed that it could take months to win back people’s trust, if that’s even possible at all.
Alongside the recent whistleblower interview on 60-Minutes with former Facebook worker Frances Haugen, Facebook’s shares have dropped by almost 5%.