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What happened to Facebook, Whatsapp, & Instagram?

Facebook has apologized after it stopped working for users around the world for several hours on Monday.

Whatsapp & Instagram – which are owned by Facebook, were also down.

What was the problem?

To make a long story short, Facebook’s system stopped talking to the wider internet.

It was as if “someone has pulled the cable from their data centre all at once and disconnected them from the internet”, explained web infrastructure firm Cloudflare.

Facebook’s explanation was a little more technical. 

It said “configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centres caused issues that interrupted this communication”. This has a “cascading effect… bringing our services to a halt”.

So why couldn’t people access Facebook?

The internet breaks down into hundreds of thousands of networks. Big firms like Facebook have their own larger networks – known as autonomous systems.

When you want to visit Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, the backend system that allows computers to connect with their netweeks uses the BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) – a type of postal service for the internet. 

In order to direct people to the websites they want to visit, BGP looks at all of the available paths that data could travel and picks the best routes. 

On monday, Facebook suddenly stopped providing the information the system needed to function.

It means nobody’s computer has any way of connecting to Facebook or its other sites. 
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