WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram suffer a general drop that affects their services globally


For now, Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has not given any explanation about what caused the problem. In the absence of that explanation, experts believe that the failure is due to problems with the Internet domain name system. (DNS for its acronym in English). The general decline comes at a very delicate time for the company, in the spotlight in recent weeks by a journalistic investigation that has exhibited internal documents that reveal how the company knew the toxicity of Instagram for many teenagers.

In a message posted on Twitter, Andy Stone, Facebook’s head of communication, stated around 6:00 p.m. Spanish time: “We are aware that some people have problems accessing our applications and products. We are working to get everything back to normal as soon as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience ”. The Facebook and WhatsApp accounts on Twitter replicate the same message at this time. Several hours later there are no more official explanations.

The problems started shortly after 5:30 p.m. PST, around 11:30 a.m. in Washington, and have completely prevented all three applications from working: the information could not be updated nor send or receive messages. Downdetector, a page that records user comments when an internet platform fails, has collected tens of thousands of complaints from at least 45 countries since the crash.

43% of WhatsApp users complained of connection problems; 29%, of problems to send or receive messages and 28%, of problems with the entire application. In the case of Instagram, 36% of users did not find anything working within the application. 33% complained of server problems and 31% of difficulty loading content.

John Graham-Cumming, Head of Technology at Cloudflare, a famous cloud server company, detected around 5:50 p.m. (Spanish time) how Facebook disappeared from the internet: when someone typed in their browser, the naming system of DNS domain does not know where to go because the route has changed and it does not recognize a new one. That seems to be the defining problem of this long decline.

The independent journalist expert in cybersecurity Brian Krebs has also assured that the problem comes from the DNS although it is not clear what could have caused it:

EL PAÍS has consulted two specialists who, without logically having all the information, speculate that it has been a BGP error, that it is a more complex route that goes over DNS and that also makes it difficult to repair it. The almost four hours that Facebook services have been down would for the moment be within reason for the recovery of a problem of this type.

Facebook’s virtual reality services have also been affected by the drop.

A New York Times reporter has spoken with several Facebook employees in Palo Alto and the company’s internal communication tools are not working either: “It’s like a snowy day,” they say.

The problems coincide with some very difficult weeks for Facebook. To the exclusives on internal documents of the company that the Wall Street Journal has been revealing this Sunday, the coming to light of her “deep throat”, Frances Haugen, who this Tuesday will declare in Congress, has been added. Last morning, Spanish time, Haugen declared in the 60 minutes prime-time program that the company always prioritized the pursuit of profits over the interest of the public.

That an app fails is normal, but that several applications interconnected with the largest social network in the world fail is rare, although Facebook has been working for years on integrating its systems with those of WhatsApp and Instagram. Two members of Facebook’s security team have told The New York Times that it is unlikely that a cyber attack caused the blackout precisely because the technology of each application is too different to be affected by the same attack.

A vulnerable system

On July 22, a failure in the services of the American cloud services company Akamai caused interruptions in the service of companies such as Airbnb, video game platforms such as Playstation Network or Steam, airlines such as Delta Air Lines, distribution chains such as Costco Wholesale and financial services such as American Express, as well as numerous banks such as BBVA or media such as EL PAÍS, among others.

More spectacular was the global failure in the Fastly content distribution network that on June 8 threw thousands of pages from all over the world out of the game. Sites such as Amazon, EL PAÍS, The New York Times, Twitch, Financial Times or Reddit suffered problems and in some cases remained inaccessible to their users

From El Pais.

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