Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp simultaneously crashed Monday afternoon, the latest setback the social media giant has faced in recent weeks.
The company claims the crash, which occurred around noon, is the result of a server issue. But Facebook has not publicly said what caused the outage. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the company is "working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible." The outage is so widespread that Facebook employees could not enter buildings, as their building passes are connected to a Facebook-run system.
The crash comes at an inopportune time for Facebook. Last month, senators grilled Facebook executives following a Wall Street Journal report that the company suppressed evidence that its products harm children. On Sunday, the whistleblower who provided the Journal with internal documents told 60 Minutes that these revelations prove Facebook prioritizes profit over user safety.
Rep. Ken Buck (R., Colo.), who has proposed bills that would break up Facebook into smaller entities, told the Washington Free Beacon the outage "just goes to show why consumer options and healthy competition are critical to free market success." Buck also said it was "convenient" that Facebook went down during one of "the biggest negative press days for Facebook in recent memory."
The crash apparently resulted from a feature of the internet's routing system called Border Gateway Protocol. Cybersecurity researchers are unsure whether malicious actors caused the outage, although most Border Gateway Protocol issues are self-inflicted. But researcher Omer Shapira pointed out that China has used Border Gateway Protocol attacks in the past to route selective information through Chinese servers.
The crash appears to have affected a number of Facebook-supported applications, including its popular corporate tool Facebook Workplace. According to one employee, the crash locked out Facebook staff from accessing servers remotely. Staffers physically present at the servers do not have authorization on those servers.
Some observers suggest the outage proves Facebook is too large an entity and should be broken up. Big tech critic Mike Davis called Facebook "perhaps the biggest single point of failure on the internet today" and said "we should not be this reliant on any one company."
According to web traffic tracker Netblocks, the outage has already cost Facebook at least two-thirds of a billion dollars.