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Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage resolved, but questions remain over what caused it

Facebook confirms that technical difficulties blighted its applications and services for several hours on 3 July 2019

The technical difficulties that blighted the user experience of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for millions across the globe on 3 July 2019 are now resolved, but questions remain over what caused the downtime. 

As reported by Computer Weekly, users of the three social networking and messaging entities ran into technical issues for several hours, with reports of users struggling to share, receive and publish photos on the platforms or, in some cases, even log in. 

Data from the Downdetector website shows that all three services began experiencing problems around 2pm UK time, with 91% of the Instagram issues pertaining to users being unable to access their news feeds. A much smaller proportion (2%) also reported login issues.

In Facebook’s case, users encountered problems in accessing photos (91%), while a smaller proportion also reported issues logging in (4%) or said they had encountered a total blackout (3%) when trying to access the site.

WhatsApp users, meanwhile, flagged issues with receiving messages (69%), connectivity (28%) and logging in (1%).

The Downdetector location data also showed that users across the UK, parts of Europe and in North and South America appeared to be bear the brunt of the issues. 

During the incident, a Facebook spokesperson said the firm was aware of the issues and was working to find a fix: “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble uploading images, videos and other files on our apps. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The problems are known to have persisted into the evening, and Downdetector’s data suggests the incident was largely resolved by the early hours of 4 July, although some residual reports from users suggest some might still be encountering technical difficulties.

In an updated statement to Computer Weekly, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Yesterday, some people and businesses experienced trouble uploading or sending images, videos and other files on our apps and platforms. The issue has since been resolved and we should be back at 100% for everyone. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

Read more about cloud outages

This is not the first time all three services have gone offline at once – a similar downtime incident in March 2019 saw users unable to access its services for several hours.

According to national newspaper reports at the time, that incident was down to the fact that all three share infrastructure, and a server defect resulted in all three services falling offline for several hours.

Computer Weekly asked for clarification from Facebook about whether the firm has any clues as to what caused this week’s outage, and if it has any plans to release a postmortem report on the incident, but has received no direct response to those questions.

Read more on Datacentre disaster recovery and security

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