Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp back online following hours of global outage

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Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are reconnected to the global internet, nearly six hours into an outage that paralyzed the social media platform.

Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram apps went dark at around noon Eastern time (1600 GMT), in what website monitoring group Downdetector said was the largest such failure it had ever seen.

Around 5:45 pm ET (2145 GMT), some Facebook users began to regain partial access to the three apps.

The outage was the second blow to the social media giant in as many days after a whistleblower on Sunday accused the company of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation.

Shares of Facebook, which has nearly 2 billion daily active users, fell 4.9% on Monday, amid a broader selloff in technology stocks.

Security experts said the disruption could be the result of an internal mistake, though sabotage by an insider would be theoretically possible.

“Facebook basically locked its keys in its car,” tweeted Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

Soon after the outage, Facebook acknowledged users were having trouble accessing its apps but did not provide any specifics about the nature of the problem or say how many users were affected by the outage.

Facebook’s engineering team apologized as the apps started to come back online.

“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry,” the team tweeted on Monday.

“We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now. Thank you for bearing with us.”

Several Facebook employees who declined to be named said that they believed that the outage was caused by an internal routing mistake to an internet domain that was compounded by the failures of internal communication tools and other resources that depend on that same domain in order to work.

The social media giant, which is the second largest digital advertising platform in the world, was losing about $545,000 in U.S. ad revenue per hour during the outage, according to estimates from ad measurement firm Standard Media Index.

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