Stay calm but at around 5pm last night Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook went down for over 6 hours, with Facebook and Instagram beginning to work again at around 11pm, whilst WhatsApp remained down! This was the worst outage for Facebook since 2019, when the site went offline for 24 hours, but why did this happen?
Facebook revealed that the outage was due to a configuration change to the routers that coordinate network traffic between the company’s data centres, which led to all Facebook services coming to a halt. More specifically the issue lies within the Domain Name System (DNS) and the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which are the foundations to any internet system.
Facebook promised users that the outage did not affect any of their data, but the outage broke nearly all internal systems that Facebook employees use to communicate and work. This is the reason the outage lasted so long, as having the internal system suffer made it difficult to pinpoint the issue and resolve it.
What is interesting about this is that immediately when these platforms went down, users turned to Twitter. Twitter embraced this by having the company’s main account tweet “Hello literally everyone,” garnering 2.4 million likes in 4 hours. 4.48 billion people use social media worldwide, and the fact our immediate response was to turn to a different platform suggests just how much we rely on social media, as it is a behavioural addiction caused by our want to compare ourselves to other. Instead of embracing the excuse to not stare at our phone and to talk to our friends or do that piece of work we have been procrastinating, people automatically switched to their last hope. In fact, BenDeLaCreme, a performer, tweeted during the incident, “Instagram and Facebook should go down everyday, I haven’t been this productive since 2006”, suggesting that social media can in fact have a negative impact on our lives due to the distraction it causes. From 2019 to 2020, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day, so think about that next time you say you have “no time!”. Social media can be a positive distraction, as it can be nice to wind down with some light entertainment, especially at a busy school like RHS, be it looking at food videos, talking to friends or ‘accidentally’ stalking someone’s profile. However, society has got so used to using social media platforms, that their life does not feel complete without it.
The good news for us is that Instagram and Facebook are both up and running again, so you can enjoy them if you have passed your digital license test. The bad news for Mark Zuckerberg, is that the outage caused Facebook’s share price to drop 4.9%, causing his personal wealth to drop $6 billion- at least he is worth $122.7 billion.