WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram went down on October 4, 2021, for 10 hours: what happened to Mark Zuckerberg’s platform services. It all started in the afternoon of October 4, around 5.15 pm , with the hashtag “WhatsApp down” starting to spread on Twitter. Then some users also notice the “Facebook down” and finally comes “Instagram down “.
Impossible to send and receive messages on WhatsApp, the Facebook Feed is blocked, and even Messenger does not work, with no posts and Reel on Instagram. All of Mark Zuckerberg’s social platforms go down, and users across much of the world cannot use any of the services offered by the companies involved.
Shortly after the reports, admissions and apologies arrive via Twitter: the WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram platforms are down, and the technicians work to restore them. After 7 hours, something moves: the Facebook platforms start coming back online, but it will take 10 hours for Zuckerberg to declare the emergency and solve the problem.
A total downturn that cost the company a whopping 6 billion dollars went up in smoke on the Wall Street stock exchange. But what happened? At first, someone on the net pointed the finger at a hacker attack, as terrible as it is fearful, given all the personal data that are kept on Facebook’s social networks. However, the company itself revealed the causes: it was a technical error.
WhatsApp, Facebook And Instagram Down The Causes
To explain what happened was the same company in several posts, published on Twitter and then on their social networks restored. It was a technical error that concerned the Facebook Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) structure, which is the protocol that manages the communication between the different routers that belong to autonomous systems and that form the Internet network.
If then the DNS servers ( Domain Name System ) indicate to the data packet in transit in the network which is the IP address to go to deliver the information they carry, the BGP protocol tells each router which is the best way to take in the network to cover a particular path, to allow to the data packet to reach its destination optimally. During a BGP protocol update on October 4, something went wrong, and the company’s autonomous system routing tables were cleared.
The practical effect was to erase all Facebook-owned platforms from the Internet: it was impossible to find the correct way to reach any Facebook services. This was confirmed by Santosh Janardhan, Facebook’s vice president for infrastructure, who explained: “The changes to the configuration of the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres have caused problems that have interrupted communication”.
The interruption also had a cascading effect on communications between the company’s data centres, causing the downtime of all services for users and the Facebook innovative working platform, called Workplace. Solving the problem wasn’t easy at all and took hours. A team of Facebook technicians had to physically travel to a data centre in Santa Clara, California, to reset servers and restore deleted files manually.
WhatsApp, Facebook And Instagram Down No Hacker Attack
At the beginning of the platform downturn, there was no fear that it could be a hacker attack on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Social networks store personal information, phone numbers, emails, dates of birth and many more billions of users worldwide. Sensitive data that is very attractive to any thief and that in the hands of hackers could be very useful for carrying out different types of cybercrimes.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloud flare, denied the hypothesis that it could be a hacker attack. The US company deals with providing CDN and DNS services distributed to the major companies in the world. Right from the start, it has ensured that the ongoing disruptions for WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram were only technical.
The confirmation came promptly in an official note from Zuckerberg’s company: “We want to clarify that at the moment, we believe that the root cause of this outage was an incorrect configuration change. Furthermore, we have no evidence that user data has been compromised due to these problems”. In short, Facebook has self-deleted from the Internet for almost 10 hours, but the data of its users are safe.