In recent times, the dependency on internet access and social media platforms has been incredibly fundamental. The internet is adopted more widely and used more intensely across countries, and internet services have become crucial and imperative for business productivity and communication. Despite its frequency of use, little consideration is given to instances where actively utilised platforms can no longer be accessed. On October 4, 2021, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp went down globally for over six hours it left over 3.5 billion users with no access to its social media platforms. In a somewhat unsurprising take on events, shares of Facebook fell by 4.9%, their most significant daily drop since November 1 2020.
Facebook has experienced international outages in the past, including major partial outage incidents on April 14, 2019, and March 14, 2019, that was attributed by the company to technical errors . This recent incident is the most severe Facebook outage on record, given the considerable impact on business productivity, since 2008 when a bug caused the Platform to be offline for about a day. However, the impact of the 2008 occurrence was less felt a result of the fact that the Platform had only 80 million users as in comparison to the 2.89 billion today . According to global internet monitoring group Netblocks which tracks internet outages, the cost of the shutdown amounted to about $160million per hour loss for the company . This follows the testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing and interview by a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who worked as a product manager on the civic misinformation team at Facebook and alleged that Facebook was aware of problems with its apps, including the adverse effects of misinformation and the harm caused, especially to young girls, by Instagram.
It should be noted that when Facebook announced plans to merge its platforms in 2019, there were concerns raised about a single-point failure, mainly as it related to the centralization of technology platforms. Nonetheless, the company has come out to clear the air about what led to the power outage, attributing the incident to a configuration change to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between the company's data centers . To further explain the cause of the outage, Cloudflare stated that Broadway Gateway Protocol (BGP) which serves as the mechanism to exchange routing information between autonomous systems (AS), might have been withdrawn or altered, causing a knock-on impact to DNS and other servers needed to reach the services.
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