Why Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp Went Dark Today

Why Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp Went Dark Today

During the time that many Australians were sleeping, the Facebook network went down.

The problem was to do with something called BGP routing, and it killed every part of Facebook’s business.

Facebook itself has not confirmed the root cause of its woes, but clues abound on the internet. The company’s family of apps effectively fell off the face of the internet at 11:40 am ET, according to when its Domain Name System records became unreachable. When you enter a URL into your browser, your user agent (generally just called a “browser”) looks up the DNS records for that domain and requests them from one of 13 root servers. The root servers work kind of like telephone switches; they route those requests to the closest recursive nameserver (which is Facebook’s DNS).

For whatever reason Facebook has withdrawn the so-called Border Gateway Protocol route that contains the IP addresses of its DNS nameservers. If DNS is the internet’s yellow pages, BGP is the navigation system; it decides what pathway the data takes. Without it, your computer is like a driver who navigates by the seat of his pants. It doesn’t know how to get to Facebook.

It’s still unclear at the moment of writing why the BGP routes disappeared and it’s not something that would typically occur over the length of time it took Facebook systems down.

We can think of 2 possibilities: This type of thing that could be done accidentally by misconfiguration, but it would take months or years to propagate through all the peering connections. The other possibility is deliberate action, either by accident (e.g., typo) or on purpose.

While Facebook took to their competitors platform Twitter to report the outage, Mark Zuckerberg took to his own timeline:

Looking to read more about the outage?

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