Facebook blames ‘faulty configuration change’ for massive outage amid calls to ‘break up’ tech giant

Facebook has issued a mea culpa after disrupting the business and social interactions of millions of users as a Facebook-owned social media trio lagged for over six hours, while blaming an engineering error for the web apocalypse.

Facebook has confirmed that a routing problem throttled its services, bringing operations at its site, as well as that of Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp, to a screeching halt. 

“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication,” the company said in a blog post on Monday.

While Facebook did not shed much light on the issue, a Reddit user who claimed to work for the company said the configuration change prevented Facebook IT experts – people “with knowledge what to actually do” to remedy the bug – from remotely accessing the tools needed for the fix. The alleged Facebook staffer added that while an “emergency” plan to gain physical access to the routers was activated, the whole operation posed a logistical challenge – all made worse by “lower staffing in data centers due to pandemic measures.”

The disruption, Facebook admitted, “had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.” 

The social media giant was quick to assure that there was no indication that user data was compromised while its services were off the grid, noting that it was “actively working to fully return them to regular operations.”

Echoing CEO Mark Zuckerberg's penitent message to users forced to quit their preferred social media platform cold turkey – albeit for a mere six hours – Facebook apologized to “all those affected,” promising to find the root cause of the problem and make its infrastructure more error-proof.

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Facebook was not the only one affected by the major internet calamity on Monday. Outages were reported across a variety of sites, including Twitter, Reddit, Bank of America, Southwest Airlines, LinkedIn, Snapchat and other major companies. What resembled a domino effect prompted some netizens to suggest that a sinister cyber attack, or even a clandestine intelligence operation, could have been behind the meltdown.

Others have seized on the occasion to insist that Facebook amassed too much control over people’s lives and should be broken up. In a swipe at Facebook, Democratic US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted it as a monopoly whose mission “to either own, copy, or destroy any competing platform,” and which has led to “incredibly destructive effects on free society and democracy.” “Break them up,” she concluded.

Another staunch proponent of antitrust laws, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, tweeted rather succinctly: “We should break up Big Tech.”

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