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October 2021 Facebook and Instagram Outage refers to a six-hour-long outage that affected social media services owned by Facebook, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, with other social media reporting issues due to an influx of users. The outage became a subject of memes on social media.
On October 4th, 2021, social media platforms Facebook and Instagram and messenger WhatsApp, all owned by Facebook, went down for a period of six hours. The outage began simultaneously on all three platforms at approximately 11:45 AM EST.
The outage was initially assumed to be a result of a DDoS attack, which was later disproven. On October 4th, 2021, several social media users and journalists reported that the outage was likely a result of Facebook's DNS records being withdrawn from the global routing tables during a BGP update that took place that morning (tweets shown below).
Approximately 30 minutes after the start of the outage, Facebook acknowledged the problem in a tweet, apologizing for the inconvenience (tweet shown below, left).
Later Facebook's CTO Mike Schroepfer posted a tweet about the outage, reporting networking issues preventing quick resolution of the situation (tweet shown below, right).
Reports of Data Breach and Internal Access Issues
During the outage, New York Times writer Sheera Frenkel tweeted that according to a Facebook source, company employees were unable to enter the buildings this morning due to their security badges not working (tweet shown below).
On October 3rd, 12 hours prior to the start of the outage, cybersecurity news website Privacy Affairs reported that private and personal information of over 1.5 billion Facebook users was being sold on a hacker forum. The website later reported that some users of the forum claimed being scammed by the alleged seller. Additionally, the website updated the article to highlight that the alleged leak was not related to the outage (shown below). However, due to the timing of the article, incorrect information that the leak took place during the outage received spread.
Outage Reports By Other Social Media And ISPs
On October 4th, 2021, during the outage, users on other social media platforms including Twitter, TikTok and Telegram reported technical issues (shown below, left). Messenger app Telegram reported that the the slowdown in its work was likely tied to an influx of WhatsApp users. Twitter did not acknowledge technical issues but reported an increased amount of active users.
End of the Outage
At approximately 6 pm EST, six hours after the start of the outage, the functionality of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp was restored.
The massive outage was met with an influx of memes on social media, with reactions varying from users cheering on unaffected social media to posts predicting the total downfall of the internet. For example, on October 4th, 2021, gimmick Twitter account @HumansNoContext posted a Grant Gustin Next To Oliver Queen's Grave that received over 7,800 retweets and 45,900 likes in four hours (shown below, left). Twitter user @GavinDYoung posted a joke about Oculus headset users being trapped in virtual reality which gained over 31,500 retweets and 146,700 likes in five hours (shown below, right).
Other social media, including Twitter and Reddit, reacted to the massive outage. For example, two hours after the start of the outage, Twitter's official Twitter account tweeted "hello literally everyone," with the tweet gaining over 485,000 retweets and 2,5 million likes in four hours.
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