This last Wednesday Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp experienced one of the longest downtimes ever for these services.
Some users could log in only to find most of the site’s functions wouldn’t operate. Others got an “undergoing required maintenance” message for most of the day.
The outage does not appear to be caused by any kind of a hack or intentional reason. It appears to be due to a problem with an automated system that is supposed to monitor for problems.
For a more technical explanation, on the Internet there are two states or conditions for data to exist in. The first, is at rest, refers to data that is stored somewhere, like in a hard drive. The second, in transit, refers to information that is traveling on the Internet like this website. To minimize network traffic many Internet systems use “caching”. While this explanation could be much more technical, a basic description is that caching allows for bits of information to be stored at different locations. When you access this site many of the pictures are transferred to your computer’s memory. When you access the site again those images are loaded from your computer and do not have to transfer through the Internet again.
It seems that at Facebook an automated system to check configuration tried to pull data from the cache and not in real-time. This caused it to create an error and the way that error was handled is what caused almost a day’s outage on their system.
To fix the issue of the error, or feedback as Facebook calls it, required turning off the entire system. Facebook was then able to correct the error condition and slowly start allowing users back on. According to Facebook the problem system at fault has been turned off. The root cause will be investigated and corrected at some point in the future.
Since this was due to a problem with internal equipment and not a hack, it looks like all of our likes and posts are safe. There is no sign right now that any personal information was accessed, and in fact the issue caused information not to be accessible. While it is always a good idea to change passwords and check your privacy settings, I don’t think this situation creates an urgent need.
Facebook released this statement:
“We apologize again for the site outage, and we want you to know that we take the performance and reliability of Facebook very seriously. “
William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand. Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.
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