Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for people across the country and even the world. The issue appears to be significant and affecting most of Facebook’s properties. Many people accessing Instagram are reporting a 5xx error. This also could mean, if you’re wondering how long the services will be down, that it might be quite some time.
5xx Errors Often Point to Server Issues
While Facebook and Instagram have not officially revealed what caused the widespread outage, other sites can help explain what a 5xx error means.
ATT explained that a 5xx code means the issue is with the server. The website noted: “These [5xx] errors are caused by the server being unable to fulfill an apparently valid request from a visitor. Often, you will need the help of a server administrator to investigate them. It is also important to consider that quite often, a chain of servers is handling an HTTP request, so that it may not be your server that is returning the error.”
Blue Frontier also has a webpage dedicated to the 5xx error and what it means. First, the webpage specified that these errors mean there are problems with the server specifically.
The site noted:
When you visit a website, your browser issues a request to that website’s server. If there is an issue with the site’s server, a 5XX error code is often returned. These errors occur when the server realises it has come across a problem or is unable to carry out a request. Clarification should be provided, explaining why the error has occurred and whether it is a permanent or temporary issue.
5XX error messages indicate server-side errors where your website’s server has been unsuccessful in performing a request, for whatever reason. Generally, this suggests that the problem does not lie with your website, internet connection or computer, and more often than not it can be safe to assume server maintenance is being carried out to solve the issue.
Often a more detailed error will be returned to explain just what the 5xx error means, such as a 502 (bad gateway), 500 (internal server error), 501 (not implemented), 503 (service unavailable), or 504 (gateway timeout). But for now, Instagram has only been returning a “5xx error” message.
ContentKing reported that a 5xx refers to any HTTP status codes that start with 5, including those listed above.
Blue Frontier also noted that a 5xx error is “generated by the server, not the website.” The website explains that because the error is shown in the operating system, you can see the error whether you’re accessing a site through a desktop computer, your phone, or a tablet. The website does suggest refreshing your browser and removing cookies if you encounter the error, but in this situation, the problem is definitely on Facebook and Instagram’s side, so you’ll have to wait for them to fix the problem.
ContentKing reported that the most common 5xx issues include technical issues like bugs or software incompatibilities, an issue with a service you’re expecting a response from, maintenance being performed on a server or a server that’s too busy, or bandwidth limits exceeded.
On Reddit’s sysadmin subreddit, users noted that the DNS for Facebook services was affected. One Redditor posited a guess about what was happening in the thread, writing: “As many of you know, DNS for FB services has been affected and this is likely a symptom of the actual issue, and that’s that BGP peering with Facebook peering routers has gone down, very likely due to a configuration change that went into effect shortly before the outages happened (started roughly 1540 UTC).”
If you’re wondering how long Facebook and Instagram will be down, the users on sysadmin warn that an issue like this might mean the services will remain down for quite some time today before they’re fixed. However, an exact estimate can’t be given.
Instagram Finally Tweeted About the Problem More than 30 Minutes After It Started
Just before 12:30 p.m. Eastern, more than half an hour after the platform crashed, Instagram’s official Twitter account finally posted about the issue.
The Twitter account wrote: “Instagram and friends are having a little bit of a hard time right now, and you may be having issues using them. Bear with us, we’re on it!”
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