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Facebook outage was caused by internal configuration error, not Lizard Squad

Contrary to some reports this morning, the major Facebook (and Instagram) outage wasn’t caused by DDoS fire from Lizard Squad – rather, it was a fault with the social network’s internal systems.

If you were up early enough and on Facebook, you might have experienced this morning’s downtime, which lasted from around 6:10 to 7:10 GMT.

As we reported earlier, some sources claimed this downtime was due to DDoS, and indeed Lizard Squad tweeted to imply that it had caused the outage (without outright stating so).

We did think it was a major target to have been taken down for so long, and indeed apparently it wasn’t DDoS fire from lizards, but rather the result of internal tinkering with the site which messed up Facebook’s systems.

The full statement Facebook issued, as reported by the Guardian, read: “Earlier today many people had trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems.”

“We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone.”

So there you have it – some Facebook engineer did something he or she shouldn’t, and it resulted in an hour’s worth of downtime.

It does seem rather odd that Facebook didn’t immediately clarify this issue with its initial posting about the outage – in that, it didn’t make any attempt to explain the cause. Which is why the door was left open for Lizard Squad to claim responsibility, and you’d think Facebook wouldn’t have wanted that to happen (because at any hint of any sort of third-party attack, folks immediately start worrying about customer data).

Ian Wells, vice president North West Europe of Veeam Software told ITProPortal:

“This outage is a valuable lesson to any organisation; no matter what your size and resources, even the smallest mistake when implementing changes can result in painful, and expensive, downtime. Indeed, even if that downtime is only measured in minutes, it could cost the modern, always-on business millions.

The simple fact is that it shouldn’t have to be this way: in the modern age, there is no reason why changes to IT systems can’t be thoroughly tested before implementation, spotting any potential issues before they affect the production environment.

Considering that enterprises on average suffer application downtime 13 times per year, lasting over 90 minutes each time, the fact that this is Facebook’s longest outage since 2010, and lasted less than an hour, gives some comfort. However, for a business with such resources and technology at its disposal, events such as this should be becoming increasingly rare, if not extinct.”

The last major Facebook outage happened back in September of last year, which was again caused by a problem with the social network’s internal systems.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.