Facebook continues to have one of its longest outages in recent history, staying offline all over the world for hours. The source of the problem is still being determined, although some clues have recently come to light. Being among the largest social networks, millions of people feel the effect.
With nearly 3 billion active Facebook users, the social network is bigger than many countries and connects people and companies around the world. Any interruption has an impact on personal communication and business activity, and many small businesses depend on Facebook to grow their brand image and generate sales.
The somewhat mysterious issue is affecting all Facebook services including Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and even Oculus, all of which are owned by Facebook. The most recent information that has come to light is that DNS records appear to be missing, confirmed by Brian Krebs, a computer security expert, via a cheep. DNS stands for Domain Name Servers, which is a distributed search service that connects the more readable name ‘Facebook.com’ with the actual Internet address that has a numeric form. If the DNS records of Facebook websites are deleted or corrupted, the domain name will not be converted to the form required for access. What is the situation that is happening now. Facebook hasn’t revealed much information beyond acknowledging the outage through a cheep.
Changes to DNS records can take up to 48 hours to correct, however Facebook could speed it up by changing the time to live (TTL) setting. This is a delay that allows records that do not change frequently to be cached, easing the load on computer systems. Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp is unlikely to make frequent DNS changes, so they may have been set for a long period of time.
Unfortunately, changing TTL to minutes doesn’t necessarily fix the problem as quickly as it doesn’t reach all nameservers. By contrast, nameserver computers crawl across the internet at their own pace, and 24 to 48 hours can be unavoidable. Facebook and its other services it could go online in some areas earlier than others as the update spreads around the world.
It is unknown what caused this problem and if the domain name problem is solely responsible for the downtime. Twitter and various mobile phone operators problems experienced also today. That could be related to an unexpected spike in activity after Facebook and the rest went offline, which overwhelmed those other communication systems. For now, it’s a wait-and-see situation. Facebook and its other services could be back online in hours or perhaps days.
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