Facebook catches flack frequently for poor privacy practices and questionable decisions, like not allowing people to opt out of phone number searches. The privacy violations could mean a massive fine in the billions of dollars for the social network. Despite all its criticisms, when the service goes down, people lose their minds. Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp were all down for users around the world yesterday. The massive outage is the largest that the social network has suffered since 2008.
The big difference between the disruption in 2008 and the one yesterday is the massive amount of growth for Facebook. There were 2.3 billion users impacted this week compared to 150 million in 2008. As for what caused the outage, that is still a mystery; Facebook has offered no new insight. All Facebook has stated is that the outage was not the result of a DDoS attack. Facebook didn't comment on the extent of the outage, but DownDetector indicated that the problem was global in nature.
The outage impacted the Philippines, and that country's Department of Information and Communications Technology, known as DICT, said that Facebook was not easily brought down by a DDOS attack, but noted that it is waiting on the final report from Facebook to determine what went wrong reports GMA News Online. DICT acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said that a submarine cable problem was the most likely cause of the outage. However, NETSCOUT principally engineer Roland Dobbins gave another possible explanation:
At approximately 12:52PM EST on March 13th, 2019, it appears that an accidental BGP routing leak from a European ISP to a major transit ISP, which was then propagated onwards to some peers and/or downstreams of the transit ISP in question, resulted in perceptible disruption of access to some well-known Internet properties for a short interval.
With many businesses relying on Facebook Workplace for internal communications, those businesses were left unable to work as usual during the outage. All we know now is that the disruption was widespread, and as of now, services are reportedly up for most users. Fans and users of the service are waiting for Facebook to shed light on what went wrong.