•Facebook, Instagram, and other Facebook-owned platforms encountered massive system problems for over 14 hours.
•In a Twitter thread, Facebook assured its fans that hackers were not responsible for the worldwide technical issue.
•Services appear to have been restored already, but not before users took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
For over 14 hours today, all was not well on Facebook, Instagram, and other Facebook-owned platforms. Suddenly, users couldn’t share status updates, send messages, access their Pages, or even log into their accounts.
And you can bet that the Philippines — a country with 67 million Facebook users and 10 million Instagram users as of 2018 — felt the full force of this, er, devastating event.
Flippancy aside, there’s no doubt that the extended downtime had a considerable impact not just on private users, but on businesses and brands who advertise on these platforms as well.
The question is: What happened? Were Facebook and its sibling platforms hacked?
Here’s what we know so far.
The outage and the outrage
As early as Thursday morning, Filipino users were already reporting problems across the aforementioned platforms.
However, reports say that the downtime actually started during the previous night, at 11 PM (Philippine time). The problem affected users in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Here’s a snapshot of the worldwide outage from real-time website status checker downdetector.com.
Out of frustration (and in a somewhat hilarious turn of events), users all over the world turned to another social media platform, Twitter, to vent. Hashtags such as #FacebookDown, #InstagramDown, and #WhatsAppDown trended on the platform for hours.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook also took to Twitter to issue their official statement on the matter.
According to experts, today’s downtime was Facebook’s longest service interruption ever.
So… did hackers bring Facebook and Instagram down?
Here’s the thing: we’re not 100% sure what caused the downtime (although smart money’s on a misapplied or faulty system-wide update). What we can say, though, is what didn’t cause it, at least according to Facebook: hackers.
The social media giant was quick to assure that the cause of the downtime wasn’t a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack involves a hacker (or hackers) attacking a company’s entire network and taking full control of the systems within it.
Despite Facebook being tight-lipped (for now) about what caused this online catastrophe, they do deserve some credit for quashing this rumor early on. In an age where users are becoming increasingly concerned about just how secure their data really is with these social media companies, it was the least Facebook could do.
Well, at least all the Facebook-owned platforms seem to be up and running again. We can all go back to being excellent connoisseurs of tasteful humor on our favorite social media platform.
Author: Mikael Angelo Francisco
Bitten by the science writing bug, Mikael has years of writing and editorial experience under his belt. As the editor-in-chief of FlipScience, Mikael has sworn to help make science more fun and interesting for geeky readers and casual audiences alike.