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Facebook, Instagram Crashed For Several Hours Worldwide, Social Media Giant 'Apologizes For Inconvenience'

By Marie Saavedra and Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Social media giant Facebook hit a brick wall early Monday, which put it, Instagram, and What's App on ice for several hours on Monday.

Users were unable to access those sites, starting around 10:45 a.m. Chicago time. Facebook and Instagram began to become available to users around 4:30 p.m., Chicago time. Even then, it took them time to regain full function.

In total, the outage meant nearly 3 billion people could not like, laugh at, or put a heart on comments Monday – and that's just on Facebook. The outage also silenced another 1 billion on Instagram and another 2 billion on What's App.

Such a global outage is rare, expects said, because if there was an issue in Chicago, Facebook's network is built to isolate the outage here. But this one spread across the world, leaving the globe to wonder how and why.


Facebook et al. went to Twitter to confirm the outage.

"This is epic," said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for Kentik Inc, a network monitoring and intelligence company. The reason for the outage was still unclear on Monday afternoon. However, several experts pointed to the disappearance of the company's Domain Name Service (DNS) routes which are used to send Internet users to specific websites.

The reason for the outage, which has been reported worldwide, was not immediately known.

Professor Brian Uzzi of the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management is an expert on social network science. He explained that the kind of outage Facebook is experiencing is not supposed to happen based on the way its systems work.

"So I have to say this is really unusual," Uzzi told CBS 2's Marie Saavedra.

He said Facebook's platforms are built to stop any global issues before they spread. But Monday's failure reached the world sometime before the company tweeted those apologies for any inconvenience.

"So if you have a problem in India, it stays in India. If you have a problem in New York City, it stays in New York City," Uzzi said. "So these widespread problems are very usual and it does raise the question of what could be the cause of such a thing."

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the outage sent Facebook stock spiraling, and in particular hit small business owners hard.

"How am I going to be able to reach all my audience?" said Josh Hall of Straight Up Thrift.

Hall sells vintage clothes primarily through Instagram. On Monday, small businesses like his couldn't bring in any money.

"I try to post at least like once a day, and I can't do that today," he said, "and most of my stuff sells pretty quick, so that's hindering my ability to make money."

"That roadmap for how to go from your device to these services has magically disappeared from across the internet," added Neal Bridges.

Bridges spent a decade in the Air Force - working with the National Security Agency on offensive hacking, Now, he is the chief content officer for INE Training.

"This should absolutely be a wake-up call for any small-to-medium business or even large businesses," he said.

Hall says he plans on answering that call. He will no longer rely solely on Instagram.

"I put all my eggs in the basket for Instagram," Hall said "Now that it failed, I'm kind of just out on my luck."

Facebook late Monday apologized especially to small businesses. Facebook also said the issue was internal, and there is no indication that anyone's data were compromised.

Meanwhile, the timing also raised eyebrows, as Facebook finds itself in the middle of a firestorm.

On Sunday, in her first interview, former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley about what she called "systemic" problems with the platform's ranking algorithm that led to the amplification of "angry content" and divisiveness. Evidence of that, she said, is in the company's own internal research.

"Facebook's mission is to connect people all around the world," said Haugen. "When you have a system that you know can be hacked with anger, it's easier to provoke people into anger. And publishers are saying, 'Oh, if I do more angry, polarizing, divisive content, I get more money.' Facebook has set up a system of incentives that is pulling people apart."

Security experts with Facebook told the New York Times that a hack was unlikely because the differences in technology behind the company's various apps.

Other security experts are looking at a problem with the company's Domain Name System (DNS) records, which apparently have disappeared. The DNS is essentially the internet's phone book, directing users to specific sites and platforms.



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