Facebook Goes Down as New Features Roll Out

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Many of Facebook's more than 550 million members found they could no longer log on to the social networking website for approximately 30 minutes earlier today starting at about 4:15 p.m. ET due to a leak of internal prototypes to the public, which caused the company to take the site down for a short time.

The outage occurred just as Facebook began debuting several new features, including redesigned brand pages, a new photo section and the ability to go back and forth between different accounts without having to log in and out, reports Mashable.

Numerous Facebook users discovered only a blank white screen when they tried to visit the website.

CenterNetworks reports that Like buttons were not loading.

Currently, Facebook is up and running with the following status message from developers:

"We are currently investigating sitewide issues that will affect Facebook Platform. We apologize for any inconvenience and will post here with updates."

Facebook also tweeted an apology on Twitter:

"Facebook is available again after being down for a brief period. We apologize for the inconvenience."

The outage was caused by the social networking website jumping the gun, with internal prototypes becoming public prematurely.

A Facebook spokesperson wrote CBS News in an e-mail, "For a brief period of time, some internal prototypes were made public to a number of people externally. As a result, we took the site down for a few minutes. It's back up, and we apologize for the inconvenience."

On Dec. 15, TIME announced Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its Person of the Year.