Facebook blamed a massive outage that stretched into Thursday morning on a server configuration change.
“We made a server configuration change that triggered a cascading series of issues. As a result, many people had difficulty accessing our apps and services,” Facebook said in a statement. “Our systems have been recovering over the last few hours.”
Server configuration describes how the parameters of a computer system or program are set up. These, in turn, can govern how traffic is routed and what happens to it within the system.
The sheer complexity of such massive networks can make it difficult to figure out what’s causing a problem, especially if it’s intermittent, said Sandy Bird, chief technical officer of computer security firm Sonrai Security. “I’m sure there were a lot of people up all night working on this.”
Internet companies experience occasional outages, but this one was remarkable for its global spread and duration, lasting nearly 24 hours. The outage intermittently interrupted service on all of Facebook’s apps, making it the worst outage in the company’s history.
A Facebook outage in 2008 that lasted about a day affected many of its then 80 million users. Today, Facebook has about 2.3 billion users who log into the service at least once a month. Facebook estimates that 2.7 billion people use its various apps and more than 2 billion log into these services every day.
The problems began spreading Wednesday at about 11 a.m. EDT. Users reported service disruption around the globe, but the outage appeared to be most pronounced on the East Coast and in the U.K., according to DownDetector, a service that monitors outages. Facebook said Thursday the problem was triggered by a change it made to its server settings on Wednesday.
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