The social media platforms went dark in much of the U.S., the UK and parts of Europe this morning. The timing generated a a large amount of speculation on Twitter (the main outlet for many Facebook users unable to express themselves in their usual fashion) that somehow the outage was related to some non-technical issue. The tech giant has faced weeks of hard-hitting stories about its inner workings in the Wall Street Journal. The reports alleging a range of unethical business decisions relied on a whistleblower, who went public in a widely seen 60 Minutes interview.
According to DownDetector, the number of reported issues with the three platforms declined markedly between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET.
Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer at Facebook, had tweeted earlier this afternoon that efforts were still under way to get everything working again. “*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now,” he wrote. “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”
In an interestingly timed follow-up to Sunday’s damning 60 Minutes report featuring a Facebook whistleblower, the social media giant’s apps are all experiencing outages today.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are all affected in the U.S. and several other countries, according to DownDetector and other monitors. Several initial press reports indicated the issue seemed to been related to Domain Name System, or DNS, server issues.
The company said it is “aware that some people are having trouble accessing Facebook app” and is working on restoring access.
A series of investigative articles by the Wall Street Journal in recent weeks have painted a negative picture of Facebook, which is already among the tech giants being scrutinized by government regulators. They relied on documents leaked by former product manager Frances Haugen, who went public on 60 Minutes. She said she felt obligated to surface internal documents because the company made a number of decisions that went against the company’s own research findings.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not responded to the situation. Around the same time the 60 Minutes segment aired, he posted a photo taken on his boat with internet-enabled glasses. He is scheduled to appear with other executives in the coming weeks on the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
It was not immediately clear how many of the company’s 2 billion-plus active daily users are affected by the outage. Tens of thousands reported problems to DownDetector.
The outages prompted a flood of messages on Twitter, where it quickly became the No. 1 trending topic. Even Netflix couldn’t resist tweeting a Squid Game meme about the situation. Here are some of the other reactions:
When Instagram & Facebook are down. pic.twitter.com/mVFlVOOCOC
— Netflix (@netflix) October 4, 2021
Instagram and Facebook are currently not working, as are democracy, society and a healthy sense of self.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) October 4, 2021
The world if Instagram and Facebook stayed down forever pic.twitter.com/z0zpL74mpf
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) October 4, 2021