FP ExplainersNov 01, 2022 12:42:58 IST
Just days after WhatsApp suffered from a major outage all over the world, image and video-sharing social media platform Instagram also suffered a major outage. In Instagram’s case, the app basically stopped working for a good number of people.
In yesterday’s Instagram outage, several users had their accounts suspended temporarily. As a result, several Instagram users observed that the number of followers they had, drop drastically. Instagram’s own primary account was down by over a million. During the outage, Instagram locked many users out and told many of them that “we suspended your account on October 31, 2022.” Reports of the issue seemed to have been concentrated among iPhone users, with some saying their app was recently crashing and unusable ahead of an update earlier this morning.
On Twitter, Instagram confirmed that their services had been hit and that their services were down globally. Instagram’s CEO, Adam Moseri also tweeted that they were working relentlessly, to solve the issue. All in all, it took the platform just over 8 hours to fix the issue.
Why Instagram’s services went down?
The outage was caused by a major bug that wreaked havoc on their backbone systems. It seems that Instagram was supposed to push an update yesterday, but some portion of the code that was published had a major bug that had gone unnoticed till then.
The engineers at Instagram, after realising that their services were down, ran a number of diagnostics before they found out that the issue was caused by a bug in their new code. This is actually a normal problem – of new code or new updates having a bug. However, it is rare that such bugs would go unnoticed before the update is launched on a global scale.
In September this year, Instagram faced a similar issue when a bug or a code error, caused users to face an “instant crash,” which basically meant that users would get logged out of their devices as soon as they tried opening the App.
Similarly, Instagram and a number of other services from Meta were struck by an error in the code, or a similar bug that would interfere with their core or backbone systems.
Why WhatsApp went down last week?
Although there was no official information from WhatsApp, it is speculated that WhatsApp suffered from a major DNS or Domain Name System failure. DNS is the service that translates human-readable hostnames to numeric IP addresses. This is the same issue that caused WhatsApp to become inaccessible last year as well.
What’s up with Meta and the outages of its services?
Meta hasn’t addressed why so many of its services face such outages, but a general consensus among industry insiders is that because Meta is handling two of the most used web applications – Instagram and WhatsApp, the bandwidth they use sometimes becomes a bottleneck. This issue will only get exasperated when activity on these platforms spikes multifold. The only solution that Meta has in such a scenario is to buy more bandwidth, which, realistically is a stop-go solution at best – These outages will be more common in the future, no matter how much bandwidth Meta buys, mainly because usage of Meta’s platform will continue to grow.
Another reason why Meta’s services are going down so often maybe has to do with the fact their partnerships with a number of different third-party firms for maintenance and coding for all of their major platforms.
Even though the internet was originally conceptualised as a decentralised network, experts believe that a handful of infrastructure companies like Akamai, Fastly, and Amazon Web Services have become concentrated centres providing their services to major internet platforms. So any issue with even one of these firms, even a minor disruption has a major domino effect, that can render some major platforms, inaccessible.