SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook and some of its apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, appeared to crash at the same time on Monday for many users, who took to Twitter and other social media platforms to bemoan the outage.
The social network and its apps began displaying error messages before noon EST, users reported. The company’s entire family of apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger – have posted reports of outages, according to the site downdetector.com, which monitors web traffic and site activity.
Crashes aren’t uncommon for apps, but it’s rare for so many interconnected apps in the world’s largest social media company to go down at the same time. The company has been trying for several years to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Two members of Facebook’s security team, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said a cyber attack was unlikely to have caused the problems. That’s because the technology behind the apps was still different enough that a single hack probably wouldn’t affect them all at once.
In a series of tweets, John Graham-Cumming, chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said the problem likely stems from Facebook’s servers, which don’t allow people to connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Computers convert websites such as facebook.com to digital internal protocol addresses, through a system that is likened to a phone’s address book, Graham-Cumming said. Facebook’s problem was tantamount to removing the phone numbers of people under their name from their address book, making them impossible to call, he said. Cloudflare provides some of the systems that support Facebook’s internet infrastructure.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, posted on twitter, “We are aware that some people have difficulty accessing our applications and products. We are working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and apologize for any inconvenience. “
On Twitter, the #facebookdown hashtag quickly became a trend. Some users said they were annoyed by the crash, while others didn’t care.
Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also phased out, leaving most employees unable to do their jobs. Two Facebook employees called it the equivalent of a “snow day”.
Facebook has already faced numerous checks. The company was criticized by whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who racked up thousands of pages of internal research and has since distributed them to the media, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Facebook was aware of numerous damages caused by its services.
Ms Haugen, who revealed her identity Sunday online and on “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify in Congress on Tuesday about Facebook’s impact on young users.
Ryan mac contributed reports.
This is a developing story and will be updated.