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What happened to Facebook?

On Monday the 4th of October, Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram were not working for almost six hours; the apps only displayed ''connecting'' or a loading symbol but never really loaded. But why did this happen?

To put it simply, Facebook owned systems like Whatsapp and Instagram stopped responding to the wider internet. This caused lots of problems and consequently Facebook itself stopped working. Later that day, Zuckerberg explained in an interview what had happened: ''Configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication. This had a cascading effect... bringing our services to a halt.''

In more technical terms, the back end system, which lets computers connect to Facebook's network, is linked to Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) - a kind of postal service for the internet. BGP looks at what website a user wants to visit and directs him towards it, but Facebook stopped providing the necessary information for the system to work, meaning no one could connect to Facebook or Whatsapp or Instagram.

Facebook's reaction to the incident had lots of repercussions. Firstly, they posted an apology on their rival network, Twitter. An analyst for research company Forrester says the incident raises questions about the way Facebook brought lots of its technical operations together in recent years. Facebook has already experienced outages in the past, but they were normally resolved in less than an hour. Maybe such a big task should be allocated somewhere else as this concerns the public about potential monopoly.

According to analysts the repercussions were not the worst part, there were also immense financial consequences. The Facebook stock price dropped down, and ads were not played on the site for hours causing Zuckerberg to lose an estimated 60 million dollars from his patrimony due to stock prices. In total the company alone lost 6 billion dollars.

This outage only lasted a couple of hours, but in the future these outages could have a bigger economic and social impact in society, not only internally. As technology becomes bigger and bigger aspects of our lives it will be critical to not let these things happen. Technological advancements will hold even more power and influence, proper handling of these tools will be extremely important.


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