Why Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp All Went Down Today

On Monday, Mark Zuckerberg's empire was hit by a Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus outage. It's a social media blackout, which can be best described as extensive and likely to prove difficult to fix.
Facebook has yet to confirm the cause of the company's woes but there are many clues on the internet. At 11:40 ET, the company's entire family of apps disappeared from the internet. This was due to the fact that its Domain Name System records were no longer accessible. DNS is sometimes referred to by internets phonebook. It is what converts host names into URL tabs like facebook.cominto IP addresses. This is where these sites live.

DNS issues are quite common. If in doubt, they can be the reason why a site went down. These can occur for many technical reasons. Most often, they are related to configuration issues and are relatively easy to fix. However, in this instance, it appears that something more serious is at work.

The DNS issue appears to have caused Facebook's outage. However, that is only a symptom, Troy Mursch of Bad Packets, chief research officer for cyberthreat intelligence firm Bad Packets, said. Mursch and other experts agree that the fundamental problem is that Facebook has removed the Border Gateway Protocol route, which contains the IP addresses for its DNS nameservers. BGP, if DNS is the internet's phonebook, is its navigation system. It decides which route data should take as it travels along the information superhighway.

It's like playing telephone. But instead of people playing, smaller networks are letting each other know the best way to reach them. Angelique Medina is director of product marketing at Cisco ThousandEyes. They will announce the route to their neighbor, and that neighbor will spread it to their peers.

Although it is a lot of jargon and confusing, this is the truth: Facebook has disappeared from the internet's radar. You can ping these IP addresses now. Mursch states that the packets end in a black hole.

This map shows the locations where Facebook cannot be reached due to DNS failures. It's everywhere at once. Cisco Thousand Eyes

It is still unclear why these BGP routes were lost in the first instance. It's not an uncommon ailment, especially on this scale and for such a long time. Facebook did not communicate beyond a tweet during the outage that it was working to restore service as soon as possible. However, it sent a statement without any technical details. The company apologized to everyone affected by the outages today on its platforms. We know that billions of businesses and individuals around the globe depend on our products to keep them connected. Your patience is greatly appreciated as we get back online.