Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology after its social media services went down for almost six hours on Monday (4 October).
The issue affected the company’s billions of users, with Facebook and its apps Instagram and WhatsApp in a widespread outage.
The outage had cost the Facebook co-founder an estimated $6bn at one point, with millions of businesses and users relying on the platforms services to live their lives.
The fault occurred at 4:00pm GMT, but possibly lasted several hours longer due to technical problems suffered by the employees of Facebook.
Here’s what happened at Facebook during the outage.
Why was Facebook down?
In simple terms, Facebook’s systems suffered a major outage, meaning their network stopped working.
This meant that all of Facebook’s connecting services, including Instagram and WhatsApp were also down too.
The official explanation from Facebook was: "configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication". This had a "cascading effect... bringing our services to a halt".
This means that Facebook’s network stopped providing information to a system used to help run the internet (Border Gateway Protocol). This meant that if you attempted to visit a Facebook platform you were unable to connect.
The service Downdetector, which tracks and monitors online outages, said some 10.6 million problems were reported around the globe - the largest number the service has ever recorded.
Why was there chaos at Facebook HQ?
The problems at Facebook grew larger when the outage affected not only its online services, but the company’s internal email and employee work passes.
Reports of “meltdown” and “mayhem” like situations began to circulate in the media throughout the outage.
According to The Associated Press’ Philip Crowther one employee said: "it’s mayhem over here, all internal systems are down too.” He added that workers had to resort to using text and outlook to communicate with each
Other reports said the employees were using LinkedIn, Zoom and Discord to continue doing their jobs. Other areas of the office, including conference rooms, were also inaccessible.
Another employee turned up to the office to assess the extent of the outage, but was unable to access the building because the badges weren’t working, according to Sheera Frankel of the New York Times.
What has Mark Zuckerberg say about the outage?
During the outage, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had to resort to the platform’s social media rival, Twitter, to explain what had happened.
He tweeted from his personal account: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today -- I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.
In a statement, Facebook said that the faulty configuration change affected the company’s internal tools and systems which complicated attempts to resolve the problem.