Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the “outage” of social networking services that went out of operation for nearly six hours on Monday (10/04) – affecting more than 3.5 billion users worldwide.
“Sorry for the disruption today – I know how much you rely on our services to keep in touch with the people you care about,” the billionaire said in a Facebook post after the service was restored.
Zuckerberg apologized after an internal technical issue caused Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram to crash around 1 p.m. EDT on Monday.
Attempts to re-access the platforms – all of which belong to Zuckerberg – turned out to be successful around 7pm (GMT).
But this episode is likely to fuel the debate over the social media giant’s reach.
For hours, billions of people found themselves without the social networking tools they depend on to keep in touch with friends and family.
Others have reportedly found that they are unable to access certain services that require a Facebook login.
Meanwhile, companies around the world that use social media to connect with customers have faced the prospect of an unexpected financial impact.
Zuckerberg himself is believed to have lost about $6 billion of his personal fortune at some point, when Facebook shares plummeted, according to the tracking program of the trading site Fortune.
The Downdetector platform, which monitors the failure of websites and services, reports that around 10.6 million problems have been reported worldwide – the highest number ever recorded.
Later in the day, Facebook said it went offline due to an incorrect configuration change that not only affected websites and apps, but also affected the company’s internal tools.
These tools include internal Facebook email and even employee work badges.
Some reports suggest that Facebook’s headquarters have “collapsed”. Shera Frenkel, technology correspondent for the New York Times, told the BBC that even “people trying to figure out the problem” had not been able to get into the building.
The New York Times reported that the issue was finally resolved after a group managed to break into a data center in California and restart the servers. The company has not confirmed this information.
Facebook said it is working to understand what happened so it can make its “infrastructure more resilient”.
Tech experts described the problem as being similar to the social networking giant’s disappearance from the internet map so it can’t be found.
The company said there was “no evidence that user data was compromised.”
The “blackout” came at a particularly difficult time for the company, which is under increasing pressure regarding its reach and impact on society.
On Sunday, former Facebook employee Frances Hogan, who is responsible for a series of bombing leaks at the company, said in an interview with US broadcaster CBS that the company prioritized “growth over safety.”
On Tuesday (5/10), she will testify before a US Senate subcommittee at a “Protecting Children Online” hearing on the company’s survey of the impact of Instagram on the mental health of young users.
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