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Facebook’s giant outage (finally) explained

On the evening of October 4, 2021, Facebook users had a unique experience. For the first time since its creation in 2004, the most popular social network in the world is experiencing a global outage lasting several hours. The other platforms of the Meta group: Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp also disappeared at the same time. Here is the insight into this widespread 6-hour interruption which cost Mark Zuckerberg $6 billion.

As if Facebook never existed…

As a reminder, Facebook suddenly disappeared from the Internet on October 4 around 6 p.m. The paths leading to the Meta servers have all been erased, as if by magic. The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which is equivalent to a Michelin road map of the Internet, leaves no trace of Mark Zuckerberg’s sites. The various free and lucrative services they offer have also been unavailable for very long hours.

BGP is like a road map showing all the paths leading to a site. Shared with other Web players, this protocol allows you to connect to Netflix, Amazon or any platform. At the time of the outage, this guide simply did not display the exits leading to Facebook and its social networks. Computers and Smartphones reacted as if they never existed.

During the blackout, the error messages on Internet users’ screens indicate a domain name problem (Domain Name Systems). The latter also contributes to the identification of a site. In other words, Facebook was ignored by servers and computers during the outage. DNS goes hand in hand with the IP address, a series of numbers that smartphones or PCs recognize.

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Human error costing $6 billion

Presumably, the outage did not come from North Korean hackers or an act of sabotage by Facebook’s adversaries. The firm provided technical explanations which tend towards internal handling error. This lead is confirmed by the chronology of the facts. Shortly before the widespread disconnection, the Meta group carried out routine maintenance of its BGP protocol. This is the collaborative map showing paths to domain names owned by the company.

Facebook’s parent company manages its own servers and infrastructure internally. The technicians responsible for the upgrades simply committed human error. Moreover, the boss of the Silicone Valey firm apologized for the outage and the inconvenience it would have caused to subscribers. Mark Zuckerberg said he was “sorry” in his very first post after the incident.

The global bug lasting a few hours affected 3.5 billion social media users around the world. Many have had to renew their subscription believing they have exhausted their data package. Others restarted their devices multiple times. SMS and other social networks have taken over, but the outage leaves a financial hole for Facebook, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (Nasdaq). This was the first episode of a whole new series, since Meta lost a quarter of its value, or $220 billion, last February. To be continued.