What would happen if Facebook and some of its apps — such as Instagram and WhatsApp — were to all go down at about the same time? And then stay intermittently out for hours?
On Wednesday, people around the world found out when all three services experienced interruptions throughout the day.
The problems began around 11 a.m. Eastern Time and affected users in countries including the United States, Japan, Australia and Mexico, according to DownDetector, an analytics service that calls itself a weather report for the internet.
On Instagram, profiles refused to load. Some Facebook users logged on to empty news feeds, while others could see their friends’ updates but couldn’t like them. And WhatsApp users had trouble sending and receiving messages.
As of 9 p.m. Eastern Time, the troubles across Facebook’s services were not resolved.
Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, recently announced a push to bring all of his apps closer together, uniting direct messages across different services. The service interruptions highlighted the potential risks of a consolidated social media giant, as users flitted from one lonely social feed to the next, searching fruitlessly for updates.
Even Facebook’s own bug report platform — in which it discloses what services are down — was offline. So the company used one of the only major social media platforms it doesn’t own, Twitter, to announce updates.
We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
— Facebook (@facebook) March 13, 2019
The company added that the issues were not the result of a cyberattack.
Instagram separately said it knew the experience was “frustrating.”
We’re aware of an issue impacting people's access to Instagram right now. We know this is frustrating, and our team is hard at work to resolve this ASAP.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 13, 2019
Since Facebook and its apps have so many users — around 2.7 billion around the world — the venting was, understandably, heightened. Some people expressed grief at the apps being unavailable.
if you log of your account it won't let you back in either…. pic.twitter.com/XPAlBEzeds
— Midnight Moose (@_midnightmoose_) March 13, 2019
Others said they were fleeing — where else? — to Twitter.
— Danelo Gonzalez III (@danelo_g_3) March 13, 2019
— j o s s y 🖤🧸 (@http_xojossy) March 13, 2019