Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp all go offline

Social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp suffered a massive 6-hour outage on Monday October 4, 2021.

A global outage of Facebook Inc.’s group of social media platform occurred October 4, 2021 and took down the main Facebook service, the popular image and photo-sharing platform Instagram, and the instant messaging and calling application WhatsApp. This resulted in millions upon millions of users being cut off from their usual social media habits.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all experienced a massive outage for 6 hours. (Images: Pexels/Pixabay)

But was this a result of a huge technical issue, a massive hacking effort from outside parties, or something else? Read on for the details below.

6-hour downtime

On Monday, October 4, 2021, users of Facebook Inc. services experienced anywhere from slowdowns to being completely cut off from accessing Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Eventually, it became apparent that the situation was being experienced worldwide. Downdetector.com, a leading outage tracking web service, received thousands of reports of the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp issue, to a total high of over 50,000 reports at one point. Users reported that trying to open any of the Facebook group of social media platforms led to a DNS error message.

Mark Zuckerberg's company, Facebook Inc., has been under fire due to controversial business practices revealed by an ex-employee. (Image: CBS News/60 Minutes)

The situation was also not isolated to just the Facebook platforms. As many users have used their Facebook accounts as the default access to third-party apps, the outage also led to a similar inaccessibility. These include gamers who were attempting to log on to apps such as Pokemon Go.

Concurrently, Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) stock plummeted with a 5.5% drop at one point. This would mark it as one of the worst single-day stock depreciations for the company in the past year.

Systems back up

After nearly 6 hours, services and activities on Facebook's social media platforms began showing signs of restoration. As these operations for the social media platforms were restored, Facebook issued an apology through its official Twitter account:

To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.

However, it is noticeable that the post does not follow up with an explanation as to what the cause of the mishap was.

Controversies and pressure

It should be noted that Facebook is in the midst of hardline pressure from the U.S. government following leaked internal investigation results in relation to the lack of responsible monitoring and potential damage that social media platforms are causing to impressionable youths.

Frances Haugen, former product manager on the civic misinformation team at Facebook, came into the spotlight the prior week. This is after the ex-Facebook employee accused the social media industry giant of putting higher priority on profits over its civic and ethical responsibilities. These include lax monitoring and responding to hate speech and disinformation rampant on personal and interest pages, with posts that support and promote such behavior which the company has allowed to prosper.

Another issue raised by Haugen is the potential harm on youth's mental health caused by its popular image-sharing platform Instagram, particularly teenage girls. Instagram has come under fire in recent years due to concerned groups pointing out the platform leads to impractical or even unrealistic image goals and what counts as beauty and success, particularly to impressionable young minds.

Haugen appeared on CBS Television’s Sunday broadcast of 60 Minutes to share these controversial topics connected to a Wall Street Journal investigation and the upcoming Senate hearing on the matters raised. During the interview, Haugen was quoted as saying:

There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests like making more money.

In response, Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch issued a statement after the televised 60 Minutes interview:

We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.

Haugen and her legal representatives have filed complaints to the U.S, Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as shared the contents of their investigation and findings to attorneys general in multiple states such as California, Tennessee, and Vermont.

During the 6-hour outage, Facebook stock (NASDAQ: FB) suffered a nearly 5.5% tumble.

Twitter triumphant

For now, it would be advisable to have alternate channels of social media communication. Non-Facebook platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Discord, TikTok, Zoom, and others remained active during the former's downtime. Coincidentally, Twitter experienced a high volume of activity during the period of time the Facebook social media group platforms were unavailable.

In a bit of good-natured ribbing, the official Twitter account made a post that got other major companies and celebrities retweeting and responding, including McDonald's, Microsoft, Google Play, Diablo, Dungeons & Dragons, Starbucks, Twitch, and even singer Adele and rock band Metallica:

It is good to see that despite the doom and gloom from the Facebook social media outage, people and businesses can still find some lightheartedness and humor in the situation.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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