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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp coming back online after long outages

By Sommer Brokaw & Don Jacobson
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp coming back online after long outages
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were experiencing outages on Monday. File Photo by Twin Design/Shutterstock

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were slowly coming back online Monday evening after lengthy service outages stretching over a nine-hour period.

Facebook's main website was functional but spotty at 7 p.m. EST after a widespread outage earlier in the day rendered it inaccessible to its 3 billon users.

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"To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry," the tech giant said in a Twitter post. "We've been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us."

The outage, apparently due to a domain name server fail, was first noticed at around 11 a.m. EST and immediately appeared to be widespread, affecting not only Facebook's public-facing platforms but also its internal tools and communications platforms, including Workplace, according to The New York Times.

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Employees were unable to enter the company's buildings to begin to evaluating the extent of outage because their badges weren't working to access doors, the newspaper reported.

"We are aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone tweeted. "We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience."

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"Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now," chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer wrote on Twitter. "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible."

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By late afternoon, the platforms remained unreachable, making for Facebook's longest outage since 2008. The Down Detector showed that the problems remained widespread as the day progressed.

Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at network monitoring firm Kentik, told CNN the scale of the outage was unprecedented.

"I don't know If I've seen an outage like this before from a major Internet firm," he said.

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The problem apparently was connected to the DNS, the structure that forms the web's infrastructure. Last week the business communication platform Slack also had issues with the DNS, with reports of users having difficulty accessing the service.

Instagram.com flashed a "5xx server error" message, indicating an issue with Facebook's servers.

WhatsApp tweeted that it was aware that "some people are experiencing issues," and it was "working to get things back to normal.

Facebook's virtual reality platform Oculus had similar issues, which it was working to fix.

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The outage came as Facebook was defending itself against allegations by former employee Frances Haugen, a data scientist who told CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday that the company constantly put profits before the public and its users.

Haugen said Facebook knew from its own research that its social media platforms posed potential harm to the mental health of teenage girls, along with amplifying hate and misinformation. She has turned over internal documents to federal agents.

Meanwhile, the company's stock price plummeted 4.89% in the wake of the outage and Haugen's interview.

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