Just days after WhatsApp suffered from a significant outage worldwide, image and video-sharing social media platform Instagram also suffered a significant outage. In Instagram’s case, the App stopped working for many people.
In yesterday’s Instagram outage, several users had their accounts suspended temporarily. As a result, several Instagram users observed that their number of followers dropped drastically. Instagram’s 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 were down globally. Instagram’s CEO, Adam Moseri, also tweeted that they worked relentlessly to solve the issue. All in all, it took the platform just over 8 hours to fix the problem.
Why Instagram’s services went down?
The outage was caused by a significant bug that wreaked havoc on their backbone systems. It seems that Instagram was supposed to push an update yesterday, but some portion of the published code had a significant bug that went unnoticed until then.
After realizing that their services were down, the engineers at Instagram ran several diagnostics before they found out that a bug in their new code caused the issue. This is a typical problem – of new code or updates having a bug. However, such bugs would rarely go unnoticed before the update is launched globally.
In September this year, Instagram faced a similar issue when a bug or a code error caused users to meet an “instant crash,” which meant that users would get logged out of their devices as soon as they tried opening the App.
Similarly, Instagram and several 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 significant 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. Still, a consensus among industry insiders is that because Meta handles two of the most used web applications – Instagram and WhatsApp- their bandwidth 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 several different third-party firms for maintenance and coding for all of their major platforms.
Even though the internet was initially conceptualized as a decentralized network, experts believe that a handful of infrastructure companies like Akamai, Fastly, and Amazon Web Services have become concentrated centers providing their services to major internet platforms. So any issue with even one of these firms, even a minor disruption, has a significant domino effect that can render some major platforms inaccessible.