Facebook’s top apps were experiencing widespread problems on Monday, disrupting access for people from around the world to some of the Internet’s most used services.
By noon in California, there were numerous reports of users not being able to view or post the most important Facebook and Instagram apps, send messages via the Messenger and WhatsApp services, or access the virtual reality service Oculus website .
More than three hours after signs of an extensive outage first appeared online, Facebook revealed little about the extent of the problem or when the service would be repaired. It only said that it is ‘aware that some people are having difficulty accessing our programs and products’.
Users have turned to the competitive social media service Twitter for the sparse information that is there. In a tweet posted by its various programs, the company said it was ‘working to get things back to normal as soon as possible’.
It is unclear what caused the disruptions and whether the business was a deliberate attack, although security experts said a possible cause was a technical error with the way the business’s services were set up. The problems occur the day before a whistleblower who left the company earlier this year had to testify during a senate hearing.
Facebook shares closed 4.9 percent lower on Monday, bringing the total drop to 15 percent over the past month.
Its shares have been put under pressure over concerns that changes to Apple’s privacy rules limit the data it can collect for advertising purposes. Wall Street has also become increasingly concerned about the threat of regulation, and Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who accused the company of placing ‘profit above safety’, will testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
Cybersecurity experts say the failure was apparently caused by a problem in the DNA, the global directory that matches the Internet addresses that users enter with the domains they are trying to access – a central part of the system for sending online traffic .
Users attempting to access the enterprise’s various sites have received a ‘5xx server error’ warning, a standard message sent back to Internet users if a server is unable to perform the requested task.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, joined the social media pile against Facebook while the outage continued. In response to a tweet from whistleblower Edward Snowden, who used the interruption to urge people to switch to the messaging service Signal, Dorsey tweeted: “Signal is WhatsUp”.
As users turn to Twitter to vent their frustration, Facebook’s Messenger service has tried to alleviate the error. “Mercury in retrograde got the best of us,” he said in a tweet; a reference to an optical illusion that causes the first planet to move backwards away from the sun when viewed from Earth, and that represents astrologers and horoscopes, causing disruptions and affecting the state of mind.