Why Did Facebook Go Down? What Was the Major Cause?

Facebook, alongside Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, experienced a worldwide blackout that lasted nearly six hours in Oct 2021, depending on where you were. People are wondering why Facebook go down. Read on to find out!

Why Did Facebook Go Down?

Right around 5pm UTC, folks started realizing that they couldn’t get on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger. It took more than five hours before things began to get back to normal.

Facebook released a statement confirming that the reason behind the outage was a change in the settings of their main routers, which messed up the flow of network traffic between their data centers. This had a domino effect, causing all Facebook services to grind to a halt.

This wasn’t just about Facebook itself disappearing; it was as if everything connected to Facebook vanished too. Others have shed some light on why Facebook suddenly vanished from the internet.

Cloudflare, which had its own recent internet issues, has given a detailed explanation of what went down. It involves two important things that make the internet work: the Domain Name System (DNS) and the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).

The internet is a massive network of interconnected systems, and to keep things organized, you need something like BGP to tell you where to go. Meanwhile, DNS acts as the address system, pointing you to the IP address of each website. Together, they ensure you find the most efficient way to reach that IP address.

According to Cloudflare, on Monday, Facebook essentially told BGP through a series of updates that the paths to reach Facebook no longer existed. And it wasn’t just Facebook itself; all the services associated with Facebook were affected. So, people trying to access Facebook couldn’t find the right path to get there.

Why Were Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp Down?

The impact of the outage wasn’t limited to just Facebook. It affected all of Facebook’s services, including its internal systems. There were even reports of staff being locked out of their offices and unable to use their own internal communication platform.

Why Did it Take So Long to Fix?

Facebook had a problem, and it was tough for their employees to figure out what went wrong and fix it. As Alex Hern, the Guardian’s UK technology editor, pointed out, Facebook runs everything through Facebook itself, so the usual way of solving such issues wasn’t working either. 

The staff couldn’t even use their own communication platform, Workplace, and they were locked out of their office because the security pass system was affected by the outage. 

Facebook mentioned that the outage was quite serious and long-lasting, so they were gradually restoring their systems to full capacity.

How Did They Eventually Fix It?

Facebook hasn’t provided many specifics about the problem and its solution. 

However, there have been several reports suggesting that the social media giant dispatched a technical team to their servers in California. The team manually reset the servers at the root of the issue to resolve it.

Can this Sort of Outage be Avoided in the Future?

While not entirely avoidable, the Facebook outage is a relatively rare occurrence. However, it highlights a broader issue that affects various online services. 

Similar incidents, such as the Cloudflare outage in 2020 and the Fastly outage in June, reveal the problem of relying on a single point of failure for numerous crucial online services.

Final Thought

Facebook plays a vital role in people’s lives. It serves as a platform for connecting with friends and family, and businesses often use it as a login method for other services, including online sales websites. 

Additionally, in certain countries, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is a dominant communication tool. The fact that an outage of this magnitude can significantly impact billions of individuals for several hours should give us pause for thought.