The World’s most popular Social Media platforms – Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger went down for over 6 hours on October 4th 2021. These super Social Media platforms are owned by one company – Facebook and run on same infrastructure. Reports has it that this 6 hour long outage saw $7 billion wiped from Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth as users flocked to alternative platforms.
I observed the downtime here in Nigeria from around 16:55 GMT+1 when I could neither send or receive messages on WhatApp. Also I observed my Facebook news feed was not getting refreshed with new content. At first I thought the problem was with my mobile telecom data service, but realized I could access other websites on the internet. On making further checks online I saw a report from an online real-time outage monitoring website DownDetector that Facebook was down! There were numerous reports as well that the site and related Social Media services were down across the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
WhatsApp and Instagram users reported they were getting a “5xx Server Error.” Some Facebook users reported seeing an error message reading: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”
What Actually Caused the Downtime?
This massive outage was caused by network configuration changes on their routers. As stated by Facebook – “This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt”
So what exactly is this network configuration changes on their routers? It is called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing which eventually led to Domain Name System (DNS) problems. There were no working Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes into Facebook’s sites and services, making them unreachable across the internet! As a network administrator, I can explain a little more.
What Is Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)?
Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) refers to a gateway protocol that enables the internet to exchange routing information between autonomous systems (AS). As networks interact with each other, they need a way to communicate. This is accomplished through peering, BGP makes peering possible.
What is Domain Name System (DNS)
The Domain Name System (DNS) is like the phonebook of the Internet. Humans access information online through domain names (e.g. www.facebook.com), while Web browsers interact through Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (e.g. 188.8.131.52). DNS does the job of translating these human readable domain names to their corresponding machine readable IP addresses so browsers can load and display Internet resources and contents. See my previous post on Web Server and Browser Interaction.
Thumbs up to the network administrators at Facebook for being able to eventually resolve the network configuration issues and ensure restoration of service!
Thank you for reading and kindly share!
Credit: IT Cruisers