Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp suffered a global outage. What happened?

Jeannie Matthews
March 15, 2019

A major worldwide outage that affected Facebook and two of its social platforms - Instagram and WhatsApp - has been largely resolved.

Facebook first publicly addressed the issue Wednesday afternoon, acknowledging in a tweet that "some people are now having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps".

Police in Bothell, Washington had to make a similar plea on their Twitter account.

Facebook says its lengthy outages over the past day were the result of a "server configuration change".

On Wednesday, Facebook dispelled speculation that the outage was caused by a denial-of-service attack (DDoS), a type of cyberattack that disrupts an online service by flooding it with requests. Now, it has 2.3 billion. "We are 100 percent back up and running and apologize for any inconvenience", a Facebook spokesperson said.

A partial Facebook outage affecting users around the world has stretched beyond 14 hours, but was showing some signs of ending early Thursday. The interruption also affected gameplay for owners of Oculus VR headsets, a company that Facebook bought in 2014.

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"Instagram is down, so I have no choice but to post this picture of Watson on a grassy hillside here instead", wrote another user, posting a picture of a pet dog.

Facebook has maintained that it shared limited amounts of user data with smartphone makers and other outside partners to enable its services to work well on devices or with applications.

Facebook declined to add to the company statement on Twitter.

While the outage continued, The New York Times reported that United States prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into the social network's practice of sharing users' data with companies without letting them know.

Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in NY. And Spotify and Netflix reportedly were allowed to see user private message information.

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