Shortly before midnight on Monday 4 October, the global public was relieved of the most extensive social media exile in history, with glimmers of life beginning to emerge on the Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram apps. 

This followed an immense – and unprecedented – six hour period in which the entire world found itself without access to the social media sites for over five-hours.

In that time, it became increasingly evident that these sites have become critical resources in our daily existence, and the potential consequences of a sustained social media absence grew in menace, with livelihoods, health services and communication infrastructures suddenly made inaccessible. 

WhatsApp slowly returning to service, Facebook CTO ‘sorry’ 

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer confirmed shortly after midnight South African time that the services were” slowly coming back online, “but may take some time to get to 100%”. 

“To every small and large business, family, and individual who depends on us, I’m sorry,” he said in a tweet. 

Instagram released an update shortly afterwards, saying in a tweet that the app is “slowly but surely coming back now”. 

“Thanks for dealing with us and sorry for the wait,” they said. 

WhatsApp is yet to release an update, and while users may now gain access, functionality across all of the affected sites remains extremely limited and temperamental. 

Cause of crashes unclear 

Earlier on Monday evening, following a spree of announcements from the affected sites via their Twitter accounts that the crash was being investigated – Schroepfer said that the technicians desperately trying to restore the sites to service were dealing with “network issues”. 

“Sincere apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now,” he said in a tweet. 

“We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.” 

The company did not disclose the cause of the outage, and according to the NY Times, security experts said that the problem most likely stemmed “from a misconfiguration of Facebook’s server computers”, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.

This is a developing story.

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