Facebook and it’s sibling platforms Instagram and Whatsapp suffered a major outage most of yesterday relating to image display. The issues started around 3:04 pm Wednesday, PT. Users were unable to send and receive images, videos and other files over these social media platforms. This marks the third major outage of Facebook and its family of apps this year.
Source: Down detector
Instagram users reported that their feed might load, but they were unable to post anything new into it. Doing so brings up an error message indicating that “Photo Can’t Be Posted”, according to users experiencing the problems. For Whatsapp, texts were going through, but for videos and images, users saw a message reading “download failed” and the content did not arrive.
— Navid Khataei (@Navid_kh) July 3, 2019
Issues were particularly focused on the east coast of the US, according to the tracking website Down Detector. But they were reported across the world, with significant numbers of reports from Europe, South America and East Asia. More than 14,000 users reported issues with Instagram, while more than 7,500 and 1,600 users complained about Facebook and WhatsApp noted Down Detector.
What was the issue?
According to ArsTechnica, the issue was because of a bad timestamp data being fed to the company’s CDN in some image tags. All broken images had different timestamp arguments embedded in the same URLs. Loading an image from fbcdn.net with bad “oh=” and “oe=” arguments—or no arguments at all—results in an HTTP 403 “Bad URL timestamp”.
Interestingly, because of this image outage people were able to see how Facebook’s AI automatically tags photos behind the scenes. The outage stopped social-media images from loading and left in their place descriptions like: “image may contain: table, plant, flower, and outdoor” and “image may contain: tree, plant, sky.”
Oh yeah! I forgot Facebook uses machine learning to tag our photos with what it sees in the picture.
To be fair, "one person, beard" is pretty much a spot-on description of me. pic.twitter.com/fCpydUxtpz
— Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker) July 3, 2019
are images on facebook broken for anyone else? i am weirdly charmed by the uncanny valley auto-generated descriptions i'm seeing instead of the pictures pic.twitter.com/n3PeEWsHg9
— Josh Fruhlinger (@jfruh) July 3, 2019
According to Reuters who talked to Facebook representatives, “During one of our routine maintenance operations, we triggered an issue that is making it difficult for some people to upload or send photos and videos,” Facebook said.
Around 6 PM PT services were restored, with Facebook and Instagram both tweeting that the problems are resolved. There was no response from Whatsapp’s twitter account about the acknowledgement or resolution of the outage.
We’re back! The issue has been resolved and we should be back at 100% for everyone. We're sorry for any inconvenience. pic.twitter.com/yKKtHfCYMA
— Instagram (@instagram) July 3, 2019
Earlier today, some people and businesses experienced trouble uploading or sending images, videos and other files on our apps and platforms. The issue has since been resolved and we should be back at 100% for everyone. We're sorry for any inconvenience.
— Facebook (@facebook) July 4, 2019
Twitter also suffered an unexplained downtime in its direct messaging service.
We're currently having some issues with DM delivery and notifications. We're working on a fix and will follow up as soon as we have an update for you. Apologies for the inconvenience.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 3, 2019
The latest string of outages follow a recurring trend of issues hitting social media over the past six months. It started in March when Facebook family of apps were hit with a 14 hours outage, longest in its history. Then in June, Google Cloud went offline taking with it YouTube, Snapchat, Gmail, and a number of other web services. This month Verizon caused a major internet outage affecting Amazon, Facebook, CloudFare among others. In the same week, Cloudflare suffered it’s 2nd major internet outage.