Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps were down earlier today, prompting thousands of complaints. Users had trouble loading contents, downloading images, and sending images and audio. Some users report that they could not log in to their accounts.
Based on Downdetector, Facebook has more than 7,000 reports starting around 9:00 A.M. (EST). Instagram and WhatsApp also have high downtime reports at the same time. Most of the users affected were in the Northeast region of the US. Users in Florida and Georgia reported that they are also affected. According to the site’s outage map, users in the UK, South America, and Japan were also affected.
According to the Independent report, Facebook’s “Platform Status” page still indicates a “Healthy” status on its page, as of 12:16 PM (EST).
Users share their frustration on Twitter with hashtags #instagramdown, #facebookdown, and #whatsappdown that are trending worldwide.
Earlier this year, Facebook has announced that it is integrating the messaging function for all three social media platforms. The integration will be completed by 2020. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured that Instagram and Whatsapp have relative autonomy.
With the decision to integrate, Zuckerberg faces scrutiny on the security measures among the three social apps. The backlash against the integration happened when all three social media apps were down last March.
Social Media Apps’ Outage in March
Last March 13, the social media trio had the largest service outages in terms of numbers of report. The outage lasted almost 24 hours with news outlets considering it as the biggest interruption suffered by Facebook.
Facebook tweeted an apology the next day, claiming that the outage was caused by the server configuration change. During the outage, Facebook was quick to update users that the cause was not a Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack through a tweet.
Facebook needed to contain panic because last October, almost 30 million users’ personal information were hacked. According to CNN Business, Facebook wasn’t ruling out the possibility of other “smaller-scale attacks” at that time.
Prior to Facebook’s official statement on what happened, speculations ranged from a cyber attack to a border gateway protocol (BGP) routing leak.
Aside from the downtime in March, Instagram also had an outage last June 14. Users’ feeds were not loading even after refreshing the app. Instagram’s error page which displays the message, “We’re sorry, but something went wrong. Please try again.”, were repeatedly shown to the users.
WhatsApp also had an outage last June 6. Users experienced delays in sending and receiving messages. Relative to Instagram and Facebook’s outages, WhatsApp’s June outage was small, with only 850 complaints in Downdetector. Most users affected were in the UK with the outage lasting for more than half an hour.
Aside from frustrated users, Facebook also has to answer to its advertisers and small business owners. Some businesses rely on Facebook and Instagram Ads. Others rely on the messaging features of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to conduct business transactions. Thus, a few hours’ of outages can mean huge losses for them.
In 2016, Facebook launched its Marketplace feature. Users can buy and sell products to other users. Aside from corporations advertising, small business owners were able to set up online shops. All of which are affected whenever Facebook has outages.
Another issue would be messaging services. Since Facebook has taken over the messaging services of Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, any business that uses these apps will be affected too. Communications through these apps are not feasible.
Imagine if you’ve got a scheduled delivery for your business and could not open any of the trio’s messaging app to retrieve the address and confirm deliveries. The business will not only lose revenue but also its customer base.
Last March 13, any ad campaigns that needed to be posted were derailed due to the server configuration problem. However, those ads were still billed to the advertisers. Facebook reportedly planned to refund its advertisers for the March 13 outage.
A digital production company named Wonghaus Ventures reportedly lost $10,000 in revenue due to the March 13 outage. Another company, called AJsmart, a product design studio, saw a loss in terms of customer engagement during the time of the outage.
Frustrations over losses were high, but another issue was that advertisers were not notified about what was happening. According to a report from Adweek, media buyers and advertisers were kept in the dark. There was no information coming in on what was happening and for how long it will last. Advertisers weren’t able to strategize on what to do next.
As of writing, there are no reports yet from Facebook as to the reason for the July 3 outage.