Zuckerberg apologises for six-hour outage

Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has apologised for the media disruption caused by the breakdown of its social media services for almost six hours on Monday – impacting more than 3.5 billion users worldwide.

The billionaire tech guru said he was “sorry” after an internal technical issue took Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram offline about 16:00GMT on Monday. The scramble to bring it back online eventually paid off about 22:00 GMT.

For hours, billions of people found themselves without the social media tools they relied upon to keep in touch with family, friends and business associates. Others reportedly found they could not access services, which required a Facebook login.

Meanwhile, businesses around the world, which use social media, were faced with the prospect of an unexpected financial hit.

Zuckerberg himself was thought to have lost an estimated $6bn from his personal fortune at one point, as Facebook shares plummeted, according to the tracking software of business website, Fortune.

Downdetector, which tracks outages, said some 10.6 million problems were reported around the world – the largest number it had ever recorded.

Facebook later said it had been brought offline by a faulty configuration change, which not only impacted the websites and apps, but also affected the company’s internal tools. The tools included Facebook’s internal email and even employee work passes.

Some reports suggest that Facebook headquarters was in “meltdown”. Even the people trying to fix the problem could not access the building, New York Times technology reporter, Sheera Frenkel, said.

The New York Times reports that the problem was eventually resolved after a group managed to get into a California data centre and reset the servers.

However, the company has not confirmed this, but it said there was “no evidence that user data was compromised.”

Facebook says it is working to understand what happened, to make the infrastructure more resilient.

Tech experts have described the issue as akin to the social media giant falling off the Internet’s map, so it could not be found.

The outage comes at a particularly difficult time for the company, which is finding itself increasingly under pressure over its reach and impact on society.

Former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen, told CBS news that the company had prioritised “growth over safety.”

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