BREAKING NEWS:Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg loses $7 billion in a few hours as Facebook WhatsApp and Instagram Apps went down
Facebook’s apps — which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Oculus — all went down at the same time on Monday, taking out a vital communications platform and adding heat to the company at a time when it already faces scrutiny.
Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has fallen by nearly $7 billion (R105 billion) in a few hours, knocking him down a notch on the list of the world’s richest people, after a whistleblower came forward and outages took Facebook Inc.’s flagship products offline.
A widespread outage is crippling Facebook’s sites and apps and its employee systems like phones and badges. The cause of the issue is unclear.
A selloff sent the social-media giant’s stock plummeting around 5% on Monday, adding to a drop of about 15% since mid-September.
The stock slide on Monday sent Zuckerberg’s worth down to $120.9 billion, dropping him below Bill Gates to No. 5 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s lost about $19 billion of wealth since Sept. 13, when he was worth nearly $140 billion, according to the index.
On Sept. 13, the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of stories based on a cache of internal documents, revealing that Facebook knew about a wide range of problems with its products — such as Instagram’s harm to teenage girls’ mental health and misinformation about the Jan. 6 Capitol riots — while downplaying the issues in public. The reports have drawn the attention of government officials, and on Monday, the whistleblower revealed herself.
Facebook WhatsApp and Instagram Apps went down for over 5 Hours
In response, Facebook has emphasized that the issues facing its products, including political polarization, are complex and not caused by technology alone.
“I think it gives people comfort to assume that there must be a technological or a technical explanation for the issues of political polarization in the United States,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, told CNN.
But the outage was a blow to small businesses and others that rely on the platform to conduct outreach and advertising and to millions who use Facebook and its apps to communicate with friends and family across the world.
Gamers who livestream their play on Facebook Gaming and are paid by viewers and subscribers said on Monday that they were trying to find alternatives.
“You definitely feel out of touch, and it’s scary, too,” said Douglas Veney, a gamer in Cleveland who goes by GoodGameBro. He said he had hoped to post videos and other content on Facebook for his followers ahead of a planned live stream Monday night. “I have 300,000 followers there — you just cross your fingers that nothing’s gone when it comes back.”
Mr. Veney, 33, has a job outside of streaming as well, but he said he knew of other streamers living paycheck to paycheck who were making the jump to other sites to be able to keep making money.
“It’s hard when your primary platform for income for a lot of people goes down,” he said.
Inside Facebook, workers scrambled because their internal systems also stopped functioning. The company’s global security team “was notified of a system outage affecting all Facebook internal systems and tools,” according to an internal memo sent to employees. Those tools included security systems, an internal calendar and scheduling tools, the memo said.
Employees said they had trouble making calls from work-issued cellphones and receiving emails from people outside the company. Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, was also taken out, leaving many unable to do their jobs. Some turned to other platforms to communicate, including LinkedIn and Zoom as well as Discord chat rooms.
Some Facebook employees who had returned to working in the office were also unable to enter buildings and conference rooms because their digital badges stopped working. Security engineers said they were hampered from assessing the outage because they could not get to server areas.
Facebook’s global security operations center determined the outage was “a HIGH risk to the People, MODERATE risk to Assets and a HIGH risk to the Reputation of Facebook,” the company memo said.
A small team of employees was soon dispatched to Facebook’s Santa Clara, Calif., data center to try a “manual reset” of the company’s servers, according to an internal memo.
Several Facebook workers called the outage the equivalent of a “snow day,” a sentiment that was publicly echoed by Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram.
Facebook has already been dealing with plenty of scrutiny. The company has been under fire from a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who amassed thousands of pages of internal research and has since distributed them to the news media, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Facebook knew of many harms that its services were causing.
Ms. Haugen, who revealed her identity on Sunday online and on “60 Minutes,” is scheduled to testify on Tuesday in Congress about Facebook’s impact on young users.
In Facebook’s early days, the site experienced occasional outages as millions of new users flocked to the network. Over the years, it spent billions of dollars to build out its infrastructure and services, spinning up enormous data centers in cities including Prineville, Ore., and Fort Worth, Texas.
The company has also been trying to integrate the underlying technical infrastructure of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for several years.
John Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said in an interview that Monday’s problem was most likely a misconfiguration of Facebook’s servers.
Computers convert websites such as facebook.com to numeric internal protocol addresses, through a system that is likened to a phone’s address book. Facebook’s issue was the equivalent of removing people’s phone numbers from under their names in their address book, making it impossible to call them, he said. Cloudflare provides some of the systems that support Facebook’s internet infrastructure.
“It was as if Facebook just said, ‘Goodbye, we’re leaving now,’” Mr. Graham-Cumming said.