On October 4th, Facebook experienced a widespread outage that knocked out its popular services including the main Facebook app and service, Instagram and WhatsApp off the internet for hours.
The outage, which has since been resolved, was blamed on DNS and BGP issues arising from a configuration change gone awry by Facebook engineers, external experts and commentators.
“DNS is the address book of the internet, enabling the simple web names we type into browsers to be translated into specific server IP addresses. Those translation queries are answered by our authoritative name servers that occupy well known IP addresses themselves, which in turn are advertised to the rest of the internet via another protocol called the border gateway protocol (BGP),” explains Facebook in a blog post.
“BGP stands for Border Gateway Protocol. It’s a mechanism to exchange routing information between autonomous systems (AS) on the Internet. The big routers that make the Internet work have huge, constantly updated lists of the possible routes that can be used to deliver every network packet to their final destinations. Without BGP, the Internet routers wouldn’t know what to do, and the Internet wouldn’t work,” explains web infrastructure company Cloudflare, which was monitoring the goings-on with Facebook properties online, on its blog.
As Facebook engineers got to work getting their services online, the billions of users of their apps and services around the world started seeking options. As we have often seen before when these kinds of things happen, one of the top options was Telegram, a messenger application that gives Messenger and WhatsApp, its directly equivalent apps/services on Facebook’s hold, a run for their money.
According to Telegram founder Pavel Durov, over 70 million people joined the service during the period Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down.
“The daily growth rate of Telegram exceeded the norm by an order of magnitude, and we welcomed over 70 million refugees from other platforms in one day,” wrote Durov on his Telegram channel a day later.
As a result of the huge migration to Telegram, existing users experienced a degradation in service for a few hours. Some, like yours truly, couldn’t load, upload or download images and files.
“I am proud of how our team handled the unprecedented growth because Telegram continued to work flawlessly for the vast majority of our users. That said, some users in the Americas may have experienced slower speed than usual as millions of users from these continents rushed to sign up for Telegram at the same time,” Durov adds.
Unofficial reports also suggest that microblogging service Twitter benefitted from the hours-long outage, registering its highest number of users online at the same time ever.
Recently, Telegram gained over 25 million new users overnight after WhatsApp laid out to the public its plans to alter its privacy policies early in the year, propelling Telegram to the 500 million monthly active users club.