Facebook Reveals Reason For Widespread Service Outage

A woman prepares to log on to the Facebook website

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Additionally, many users could not post anything to Facebook or even got "error" messages.

"As a result, many people had difficulty accessing our apps and services", Facebook said.

Police in Bothell, Washington had to make a similar plea on their Twitter account.

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"We made a server configuration change that triggered a cascading series of issues", Facebook says in a story with USA Today.

The company said the outage which, affected users across Australia, Europe, Japan, North and South America, insisted that it was not due to a "distributed denial of service" or DDoS attack, a type of attack that hackers use to interrupt service to a site. The company's flagship social network has more than 2.3 billion users, and Instagram has more than 1 billion. The outage prompted exasperation from business owners and individuals who rely on Facebook's platforms to communicate, and inspired a flood of derision on Twitter, where some users migrated to stay connected. The hashtag #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown were trending on Twitter for much of the day. Users in Asia were having problems on Thursday morning. Facebook said the issue had been resolved and that it's systems were recovering.

With Facebook down, another messaging platform, Telegram, saw a surge of new signups, Tech Crunch reported.

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While the outage continued, The New York Times reported that United States prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into the social network's practice of sharing users' data with companies without letting them know.

The news comes with regulators, investigators and elected officials in the USA and elsewhere in the world digging into the data sharing practices of Facebook.

While Facebook said it has "resolved its issues", the update was sparse on details. Amazon was reportedly allowed to see user contact information.

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