Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger went down on October 4, 2021. But what happened in the Zuckerberg galaxy?
October 4 in the evening, around 5:30 p.m., the applications and web services of the Facebook group began to spin in the void. In a few minutes, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook are extinct. A person could no longer access a failure which, we did not know, would last about 6 hours.
Contrary to what one might think, this failure is not “normal”. Bugs and other errors can happen on the web, even from companies as powerful and prepared as Mark Zuckerberg’s, but what happened on October 4, 2021 is a landmark anomaly.
The unfolding of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp
But what really happened?
For users, it’s simple: no Facebook service was running. For Facebook employees, the failure went to their internal messaging software – and, according to journalist Sheera Frenkel of New York Times, the incident had very real consequences: people found themselves outside, unable to enter the Facebook buildings, because their badges no longer worked.
Specialists in the operation of networks such as Stephane Bortzmeyer, system architect at AFNIC (French Association for Internet Naming in Cooperation), quickly had an intuition to understand where the failure came from.
By doing some tests, we could see yesterday that Facebook had stopped broadcasting its “position on the Web”.
When you type facebook.com in a search bar, this easy-to-remember address is converted by a server called DNS (Domain Name System) into an IP address (a series of numbers, which points to a very physical server where everything is hosted. Facebook).
In the case of Facebook, since the giant is colossal, there is another step managed internally, before returning the site to you: what is called an “authoritative DNS server” will direct you to Facebook’s servers. to show you the page you are looking for.
The technical reality is more complex than that, but remember that a two-level referral system is responsible for convert your intention (go to Facebook) into a result (show Facebook). If one of these two levels is incorrectly configured, it cannot tell you where the site you are looking for is located.
It is precisely this problem that caused this monumental outage: Facebook was not erased, but its corner of the web suddenly went under the radar. It is as if all the road signs leading you to a city ceased to exist a few kilometers from your arrival, on a road with millions of junctions!
According to Facebook, it’s a “configuration error”, most likely human, which is the cause of this failure global and total, which spread to the entire group and touched Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger in stride. Identifying it, fixing it, and deploying the fix took a tremendous amount of time.
Why sites other than Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp seemed inaccessible?
By side effect, other parts of the web were inaccessible even though they were not related to Facebook or its applications.
This is quite normal: the billions (yes) of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp users have asked themselves questions. All these people found themselves on Twitter, Signal, Telegram, Reddit… and the sudden influx led to server overload, which could be noticed.
Likewise, web applications and services that will “query” Facebook’s services to function have found themselves unresponsive… and have tried again and again, which has increased their load.
Until, sometimes, join Facebook in the breakdown.
Was there anything you could do to prevent this? In this precise case, not at all. Only Facebook was able to bring up Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and its main social network.
The fact remains that this case reminds us that the Facebook group is only part of the Web: you have every interest in not resting your occupations, your social life or your professional activity solely on this platform. From alternative messaging like iMessage on iPhone, Signal or Telegram on all smartphones – or good old SMS! – are reliable means of communication, which you should have on your devices in primary use or in case of a problem.
It will now remain at quantify, financially, the consequences of this failure. For the Facebook group, which lives off advertising, but also for the millions of creators, designers and businesses who depend (too much?) On WhatsApp or Instagram …
In the meantime, the surviving social networks have been the scene of a nice collection of jokes.
I lived without Facebook for 5 years and I survived!