Facebook and Instagram Go Down, Sending Stock Market Reeling and Costing Mark Zuckerberg Billions in Losses

Facebook and Instagram vanished from the internet.
A Facebook whistleblower appeared Sunday on "60 Minutes."Getty

The outages followed a Facebook whistleblower interview on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Facebook and its hugely popular platforms vanished from the internet on Monday, after the communication giant's platforms simultaneously crashed.

Facebook’s platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Oculus, started issuing error messages around noon Eastern Daylight Time. Then the apps disappeared for hours in outages felt around the globe. Mark Zuckerberg's sprawling social media empire was already in hot water after a whistleblower appeared in Sunday night's "60 Minutes" broadcast and a series of critical articles appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

In response, the stock market tumbled more than 300 points Monday while selloffs of Facebook stock sent its value plummeting 5%, causing Zuckerberg to lose an estimated $7 billion in personal wealth, Bloomberg reported.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone posted on Twitter, “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Service was apparently returned for some users about 6 p.m. EDT.

The outages affected three billion users around the world, according to The New York Times.

More than four hours after the outage started, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mark Schroepfer tweeted: "We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible."

Facebook did not say what caused the outage. Security experts suggested a Domain Name System (DNS) snafu could be the problem. 

Facebook and Instagram were apparently removed from the DNS servers that basically serve as the internet's phone book, according to cyber security writer Brian Krebs, who tweeted, "The DNS records that tell systems how to find Facebook.com or Instagram.com got withdrawn this morning from the global routing tables.

"We don't know why this change was made," Krebs continued. "It could well have been the result of an internal, system wide change or update that went awry. It's all speculation at this point why. FB alone is in control over its DNS records."

Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen said in an exclusive CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday that the social media company prioritized profits over users' safety. A 2018 change to the content flow in Facebook’s news feed helped develop a climate of divisiveness and rancor among users, she said.

Haugen also contended that in a moneymaking move, Facebook turned off system safeguards designed to impede misinformation after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in last year’s elections. She also alleged the company's actions contributed to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Facebook's director of policy communications, Lena Pietsch, issued a lengthy statement in response to Haugen's allegations on the CBS newsmagazine.

"Every day our teams have to balance protecting the right of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place," Pietsch said. "We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true."

Specifically responding to the Jan. 6 claims, Pietsch said, "We also aggressively worked with law enforcement, both before Jan. 6 and in the days and weeks since, with the goal of ensuring that evidence linking the people responsible for Jan. 6 to their crimes is available for prosecutors."

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