When a Facebook spokesman on Monday needed to get a message out to the social network’s users, he turned to a competitor’s platform to do it.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products,” tweeted Facebook communications director Andy Stone. “We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Without Facebook, many—at least temporarily—rediscovered Twitter. Bored social media users spent much of the afternoon getting creative on the one major platform they were still able to use.
Every single one of Facebook’s apps, including Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and Facebook itself, went dark at around 11:45 a.m. EDT. Outages and technical hiccups are not uncommon for companies that exist on the internet, but for Facebook’s entire brand to disappear in one fell swoop is highly unusual.
Facebook employees muddled through the workday using Outlook to access their work emails, but have only been able to use them to communicate with other Facebook employees, according to The Verge. Those who were logged into Google Docs and Zoom before the systems collapsed are reportedly still able to use those tools, but anyone who tries to log in with a Facebook email account is blocked.
The cause of the outage remains unclear. Security experts cited by Reuters believed it was most likely the result of an internal error. Still, an outside hack, they said, was “theoretically possible.”
The systemwide crash follows on the heels of a Facebook whistleblower going public on 60 Minutes with allegations that the company intentionally amplifies polarizing and divisive content in pursuit of profit, at the expense of user safety. The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday, urging them to regulate the social media behemoth the way it did tobacco companies.
Facebook is back up for some users as of Monday evening, but not all—and “major problems remain.” The company’s stock ended the day down nearly 5 percent.