The day Facebook went dark

The day Facebook went dark

Posted: Oct 6, 2021 12:30 PM
Updated: Oct 6, 2021 12:30 PM

A businessman in Atlanta changed his passwords because he thought his phone had been hacked.

A Long Island woman who sells vintage items on Instagram lost revenue when she was forced to cancel a sale event. And a graduate student in Texas, freed from the distractions of social media, whipped through four assignments.

For some six hours Monday, the ripple effects of Facebook's massive outage reverberated across the US and around the world.

From Mumbai to Mexico City, billions of people were abruptly cast adrift when Facebook vanished from the internet and its family of platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp, stopped loading new content.

The impact was felt almost everywhere. Facebook alone has almost 3 billion users -- more than a third of the world's population. As one web analyst told CNN, for a lot of people, "Facebook is the internet."

Photo notifications and birthday reminders stopped. Online businesses sputtered. Messaging went silent. And countless people struggled to adapt.

Here's how the outage unfolded.

In the first minutes, panic and confusion

When the apps first went dark or stopped updating shortly before midday on the East Coast, it was unclear what was going on. Confused users refreshed their screens.

The outage happened hours after a "60 Minutes" segment in which Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen claimed the company knows its platforms are used to spread hate, violence and misinformation.

Speculation grew on social media. Was it a data breach? A massive hack? Part of the ongoing Mercury retrograde?

While some mulled out-of-this world theories, others took a more earthly approach.

"I thought, 'My phone has been hacked.' I had to change all my passwords and update my iPhone software," said businessman Tete Macharia.

With every passing minute, the uncertainty and conspiracy theories grew. So Macharia, who owns a freight and forwarding company in suburban Atlanta, took additional steps.

"I changed my passwords for my bank accounts and restarted my phone like three times," he said. "I thought I'll find all my accounts empty."

Macharia said the outage also cut off most of his communication. He uses WhatsApp to message clients overseas and could not reach them for hours.

"If a prospective client can't reach you, they move on to the next business," he added. "It makes you realize the risk of one company having so much monopoly."

Users migrated to Twitter to vent

Shortly after midday, the social platforms began acknowledging the outage.

WhatsApp, the messaging service used widely outside the US, was the first to notify users at 12:16 p.m. ET -- about 35 minutes after the app stopped loading new content.

"We're aware that some people are experiencing issues with WhatsApp at the moment. We're working to get things back to normal and will send an update here as soon as possible," it said.

Six minutes later, Facebook tweeted its awareness of the outage and apologized for any inconvenience. Instagram notified its users at 12:25 p.m.

Social media users looking for updates migrated to Twitter. So did the jokes.

"Hello literally everyone," said Twitter's official account, about an hour after the outage was announced, prompting a flurry of witty responses.

Meanwhile, the memes poured in. Some played off the initial confusion, when people thought the problem was with their phones or internet connection.

"Me running to Twitter to see if facebook and Instagram are down or if it's just me," posted one woman with a video of a man sprinting down the street.

Others poked fun at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Some posted memes about Twitter's sudden supremacy over Facebook and its cousins.

And still others lamented the fact that they couldn't reach their pals.

"I can't even tell my friends that Facebook is down. They're all on Whatsapp and Instagram," tweeted one New Yorker.

For online entrepreneurs, the outage wasn't funny

For many users, social media is more than a way to share photos and messages. It's also a place for small businesses to make sales and grow their customer base.

Jessica Ferrandino owns The Curated Vintage, an Instagram page that sells vintage furniture and other pre-owned items for the home. She first noticed that Instagram wasn't working while trying to message a customer about her package tracking information.

"Most of my contact with customers is through Instagram, so I was not able to contact customers regarding deliveries, tracking info, etc., as I was unable to send messages," said Ferrandino, who lives on Long Island, east of New York City.

Ferrandino had no choice but to scrap a planned sale event Monday on Instagram Stories, where she was to offer markdowns on certain pieces.

"Not being able to have the story sale was definitely a potential financial loss," she said Tuesday.

Her setback also spread to Facebook, where she spends most Mondays acquiring vintage pieces via the platform's marketplace. With Facebook down as well, she missed out on finding potential pieces for her online store.

But some users actually welcomed the break

Juan Sanchez found out WhatsApp was down while calling his mom, who lives in Spain, so she could see her granddaughter, Cala.

He wasn't dismayed by the news. As a co-founder of Bagby, a startup that promotes digital wellbeing, he already advocates for less screen time.

"We actually help people unplug from their phones without adding more technology. So a social media siesta is always a great thing; both for us and the entire humanity," he said.

Sanchez supports an annual holiday during which people stay off social media. Its name: #FacebookDownDay.

Lilly Logan, a doctoral student at Abilene Christian University in Texas, found her time offline refreshing -- and productive.

"The outage was a much needed respite from mindless scrolling that keeps me from being productive in my studies," she said. "I completed four assignments effortlessly without the distraction. It normally takes me two weeks to complete four assignments."

By evening, Facebook was back -- but things felt different

At 6:33 p.m. ET, Facebook posted an update saying its apps and services were coming back online.

"To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we're sorry," it said.

Facebook later said in a statement that the outage was caused by a networking glitch that interrupted communications between its data centers. The company said there was no evidence that user data was compromised.

But the jokes didn't stop.

"Facebook comes back online after grueling six hours of vaccine advice only being available from doctors and scientists ..." one tweet said.

For Ferrandino, the experience made her realize she cannot depend solely on the social media platform to maintain her business, based in East Setauket, New York.

"My shop would not be where it is today without Instagram. However, the outage really made me realize that Instagram cannot be my only platform for selling," she said. "Instagram can shut down at any time, and then my shop is just completely gone. "

She's now planning to launch a website for her store.

Logan, the Texas student, said the outage rewired the way she thinks about social media. Going forward, she said she plans to limit the time she spends on the apps.

"I realized how time-consuming, toxic and divisive they are," she said. "It was a day of mental clarity."

Today Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are once again pinging phones across the world with news, photos and other messages. Monday's outage may soon be forgotten.

But for six maddening and peaceful hours, much of the world was not quite the same.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
Unassigned480
Rochester
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 24°
Mason City
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 22°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 25°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 21°
Mild heading into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Snow tubing hill opens

Image

RFD high school program

Image

High School Firefighting program

Image

Overheated HVAC unit

Image

Full Forecast 10 PM 11/27/21

Image

Full Forecast 6PM 11/27/21

Image

Small Business Saturday Preview

Image

Here comes Santa Claus

Image

Every brunette

Image

Chatfield brings home a trophy and KM comes up a bit short

Community Events