Why Does The Internet Keep Breaking Down?

Why does the internet keep breaking

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology for the latest service outage

I’m not sure if Mark Zuckerberg reads the comments left on his Facebook posts.

But, if he did so, it would take him roughly 145 days without sleep to wade through the deluge of reactions he would receive once he apologized for the collapse in services during last week’s episode.

The founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, apologized for the service outage on Monday. After almost six hours of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram being down, he wrote: “I apologize for the inconvenience today.”

Facebook explained the outage by claiming that it was caused by a routine maintenance procedure – its engineers had inadvertently cut off Facebook data centers from the rest of the internet.

Around 827,000 individuals responded to Mark Zuckerberg’s apology.

Users from all over the world shared their own experiences with scams, ranging from amused to baffled. “It was awful; I had to contact my family,” stated one Italian user. “I walked into a repair shop thinking my phone was broken,” said someone in Namibia.

“You can’t shut down everything at the same time; it would be unprecedented,” one Nigerian businessman wrote. Another from India requested compensation for the interruption to their business.

It’s now clear, if it wasn’t already, just how reliant billions of people have become on these services – not just for fun but also for vital communication and trade. Many enterprises nowadays rely heavily on Facebook utilities like WhatsApp and Instagram to communicate with consumers.

What’s also apparent is that this isn’t a one-time occurrence: according to experts, widespread outages are becoming more common and more disruptive.

“One of the things we’ve seen in the last several years is an increased reliance on a small number of networks and companies to deliver large portions of Internet content,” says Luke Deryckx, Chief Technical Officer at Down Detector.

When one or more of those, or many, go down, it has an impact on not just them but hundreds of thousands of other services. Facebook is now used to log in to a variety of different services and devices, such as smart TVs.

“And so, you know, we have these sort of internet ‘snow days’ that occur now,” says Mr Deryckx. “Something goes down [and] we all look at one another like, ‘well, what are we going to do now?'”

Mr Deryckx and his team at Down Detector keep an eye on web services and websites for problems. He claims that frequent widespread outages of major services are getting more common and worse.

“When Facebook has an issue, it has a significant impact on the internet and the economy, as well as society in general. MILLIONS or perhaps BILLIONS of people are just sitting around waiting for a small team in California to fix something. It’s an odd occurrence that’s been developing over the last few years.”

Meltdowns of considerable magnitude

. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down for 5 4-5 hours in October 2021 due to a configuration error. Other apps, such as Twitter, were also overwhelmed by the increase in new app installs..

. July 2021: After a bug with the Domain Name System (DNS) at content delivery firm Akamai, over 48 services, including Airbnb, Expedia, Home Depot, and Salesforce were down for around an hour. A similar outage occurred at the firm a month before that.

. Amazon, Reddit, Twitch, Github, Shopify, Spotify, and a number of other news sites were down for around an hour after a customer at cloud computing services provider Fastly triggered an unknown bug by accident.

  • Google services went down simultaneously for roughly 90 minutes after the company claimed it had an “internal storage capacity problem.”
  • In November 2020, an outage of Amazon Web Service’s data center in Virginia, USA, impacted thousands of third-party internet services for hours.
  • March 2019: For around 14 hours, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down or were severely disrupted after a “server configuration change.” Other sites that rely on Facebook for logins, such as Tinder and Spotify, were also affected.

Some are concerned that a significant outage of services is coming at some point.

Experts say, on the other hand, that it’s more often than not due to a more routine case of human error that is compounded by the web’s reliance on an outdated and complicated network of systems.

Experts joked on social media platform Twitter that some of the typical suspects, or causes of outage issues, are “older than the Spice Girls” and “designed on a napkin,” during the Facebook outage.

According to internet scientist Professor Bill Buchanan, this is an accurate description of the situation: “The internet isn’t the large-scale distributed network that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Internet’s original architects, attempted to build, which could resist a nuclear attack on any part of it. ”

“The protocols it employs are just those that were created when we connected to mainframe computers from dumb terminals. A single breakdown in its core infrastructure might bring the entire system tumbling down.”

Internet resilience can be improved, according to Dr. Buchanan, but many of the net’s basic principles will likely remain for better or worse.

“In general, the systems work and you can’t just switch certain protocols of the internet ‘off’ for a day, to try to remake them,” he says.

Rather than attempting to restore the internet’s infrastructure and structure, Dr. Buchanan believes we should improve how we use it to store and exchange data, or risk future widespread outages.

He claims that the internet has become too concentrated, with too much data coming from a single source. With systems that include many nodes, he explains, this trend must be reversed so that no one node failure can bring a service to a halt.

There is a silver lining. Although major internet outages have a significant impact on users’ lives and businesses, they may also help to improve the internet’s resilience and web services connected to it.

Forbes estimates that between the suspension, or exodus, of advertisers on the site and its subsequent recovery, Facebook lost $66 million (about £48.5 million). Senior executives are likely to be more inclined to focus on preventing it from happening again following such a loss.

“They lost a significant amount of money during that day, not only in terms of their stock price but in terms of their operational earnings,” claims Mr. Deryckx.

“Moreover, if you look at outages caused by content delivery networks like Fastly and Cloudflare, they also lost a significant number of customers to the competition. So, I believe these companies are doing everything possible to keep things up and running.”

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