Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp back working again - but what caused the social media outage?

WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook are all working again after experiencing a major outage from just before 5pm on Monday (4 October).

According to DownDetector, a site which tracks when social media, broadband and streaming sites are down, the issues started at around 16:44 BST (11:44 ET).

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DownDetector also claimed the outage was being experienced worldwide.

The apps, all owned by Facebook, failed to upload, update and carry out other tasks across the main sites and across other products - such as messenger and Facebook Workplace.

Facebook has now blamed a “faulty configuration change” for the widespread outage which impacted the social media platform, along with Instagram and WhatsApp,

It said in a statement: “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication.

“This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.

“We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change. We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”

Users were eventually able to access Facebook and Instagram from late on Monday evening, while WhatsApp said its services were “back and running at 100%” as of 3.30am on Tuesday (5 October).

The platforms had confirmed on Twitter they were aware of issues and working to resolve them after thousands of people reported outages.

After over four hours of failing to sort the issues, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer wrote on Twitter: “*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now.

“We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”

Hours earlier, Whatsapp acknowledged the issues in a Tweet.

“We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment,” it read.

“We’re working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.”

Facebook’s account tweeted: “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products.

“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Instagram said: “Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we’re on it.”

A Facebook company spokesperson said: “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products.

“We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologise for any inconvenience.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously commented on the negative impact outages have on business.

In a leaked transcript published in The Verge in 2019, he said it was a “big deal”, as users could switch to competing apps and regaining trust in consumers of Facebook and related apps takes “months”.