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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp experience outages, company CTO says 'network error' to blame

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Facebook's chief technology officer offered "sincere" apologies to users experiencing a widespread outages Monday afternoon after Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down.

Thousands of users around the world began reporting outages on Facebook's website and on it's apps Instagram and WhatsApp around 11 a.m. ET Monday, according to DownDetector.

"We're aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products," Facebook said in a statement posted to Twitter. "We're working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience."

Information on what caused the outage was initially limited. Nearly five hours after the website went down, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said the company was experiencing "network issues," causing the outage.

"*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now," Schroepfer tweeted. "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible."

Facebook employees that spoke to The Verge said the outage has disabled the internal communication systems the company relies on for work. Employees are reportedly communicating via work-provided Outlook email accounts, though they cannot receive emails from external addresses. Anyone who was logged out of services like Google Docs or Zoom before the outage and uses their work email to log in reportedly cannot access those programs.

The Verge reports that Facebook has deployed engineers to its U.S. data centers to fix the problem, but it is unclear when the social network or its companion apps will be back online.

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A peek at Down Detector (or your Twitter feed) reveals the problems are widespread. While it's unclear exactly why the platforms are unreachable for so many people, their DNS records show that, like last week's Slack outage, the problem is apparently DNS (it's always DNS).

Cloudflare senior vice president Dane Knecht notes that Facebook's border gateway protocol routes — BGP helps networks pick the best path to deliver internet traffic — have been "withdrawn from the internet." While some have speculated about hackers, or an internal protest over last night's whistleblower report, there isn't any information yet to suggest anything malicious is to blame.

The outage is compounding a public relations nightmare for Facebook as whistleblower Frances Haugen will testify to Congress on Tuesday. During a "60 Minutes" interview, Haugen, 37, a data scientist from Iowa, revealed herself as the whistleblower who filed complaints with law enforcement alleging that Facebook's own research shows its platform amplifies hate, misinformation, and political unrest — data that Facebook has hidden from the public. She plans to ask Congress to introduce new regulations against the social media giant.

"The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money," Haugen told "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

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