Facebook, along with its properties; Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp is currently experiencing a global outage. Visiting Instagram.com returns server error 5XX and typing facebook.com on Google Chrome shows “This site can’t be reached” with browser error message “DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN“. This indicates that there’s a DNS issue with Facebook’s systems. Users globally confirm that they are experiencing an outage according to the Downdetector website.
Update: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are now back online for some users.
DNS, Short for Domain Name System, is the internet’s address book. It translates Domain names such as facebook.com into numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that computers understand such as 126.96.36.199. DNS is a critical piece of how the internet or websites work. Currently, Facebook’s DNS system seems to be broken. Since Facebook’s other properties such as Instagram and WhatsApp share the same computing infrastructure, they’ve also been equally affected. Even Oculus, Facebook’s virtual reality platform, and Workplace, its business communication tool, are down.
A Reddit user who claims to be on the recovery team of the issue confirmed that the problem is indeed related to DNS for Facebook services. The comment and the account, however, have since been deleted. Here’s what he wrote;
“As many of you know, DNS for FB services has been affected and this is likely a symptom of the actual issue, and that’s that BGP peering with Facebook peering routers has gone down, very likely due to a configuration change that went into effect shortly before the outages happened (started roughly 1540 UTC). There are people now trying to gain access to the peering routers to implement fixes, but the people with physical access is separate from the people with knowledge of how to actually authenticate to the systems and people who know what to actually do, so there is now a logistical challenge with getting all that knowledge unified. Part of this is also due to lower staffing in data centers due to pandemic measures.”https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/q181fv/looks_like_facebook_is_down/hfd4dyv/?context=3
Facebook is now hours into the outage and there’s no clear timeline when the issue is going to be resolved.
The SVP of Cloudflare tweeted that Facebook’s BGP routes have been withdrawn from the internet. While DNS is the Internet’s Phone Book, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is the postal service of the Internet. BGP is a system that’s responsible for looking at all of the available paths that data could travel and picking the best route. With Facebook BGP routes missing on the internet, providers don’t know how to route Facebook traffic. Cloudflare has a great write-up on BGP and how it caused the outage.
Update: Looks like things are starting to get back online. According to the latest tweet from Cloudflare CTO, they are beginning to see some BGP traffic from Facebook again after the outage. WhatsApp and Instagram are back for some users. Facebook is partially back online too.
Meanwhile, a number of domain registration companies listed the domain Facebook.com as up for sale!
Due to the nature of DNS, it’ll take at least 24 hours for full recovery from the time the issue is resolved. This is due to the decentralized nature of the DNS systems. Typically, when a record is changed, it takes about 24 hours for the copy of the change to be reflected across all the DNS servers on the internet. This is called “DNS Propagation” time.
So even when services are restored, not everyone will come back online at the same time after this Facebook outage. This is a developing story. We shall keep updating you as the issue gets resolved.