As time moves ever deeper into the 21st Century, it becomes ever more obvious that this is the age of social networking. From networks like Facebook to media-sharing platforms as big as YouTube to as little as TikTok, people use online connections even more than ever before. It also becomes clear that online connectivity via social media is no longer a perk but a necessity. In the current years with the global pandemic, social media platforms were a godsend: to conduct business, to teach classes online, and so much more. So what would happen if these platforms suddenly went offline?
Large parts of the world got to experience that in October 4, when Facebook and other commonly-used social media services went down as reported by The Verge. These platforms such as Messenger, Instagram and Oculus are all under the overall Facebook umbrella as well. Starting from before noon of the 4th, Eastern Time, services in FB and the aforementioned platforms just stopped. Towards evening Facebook gave official word on unaffected social media services (like Twitter) that a configuration issue caused the loss of connection.
By about 5:30 PM (ET), FB and Instagram were back to normal. The shutdown occurred at different hours according to time zones around the world. The Philippines for example, lost FB connection overnight into October 5.
Facebook Communications Executive Andy Stone explains in a Twitter post that networking issues were at the heart of the sudden service outage. Other than assurances that service teams were addressing the problems and that no user data was lost, the social media giant did not elaborate on the issue. Inside sources note that as part of the repair efforts engineers were sent to several FB data centers across the US.
In the wake of the Facebook social media umbrella’s momentary connectivity loss, outside tech observers have provided speculation on what just happened. Web infrastructure and security firm Cloudflare points out that the issue may have been caused by the sudden withdrawal from the internet of FB’s border gateway protocols (BGPs) which help online networks choose the optimal route for internet traffic. While there is no hard information corroborating it, rumors abound that the brief outage may have played into Facebook’s damage control following a former executive-turned-whistleblower going to the Federal government with allegations that the social networking giant was willingly allowing “hate-speech” content to propagate in its platform for profits.
Image from Times of Israel