Network measurements provide insight into global Facebook outages

Analysis of 100,000 worldwide network measurements across 21 Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger servers shows no evidence of a widespread network layer fault, and no obvious signs of a DDoS attack that might explain Wednesday’s global outages.

Data collected by the NetBlocks internet observatory covering the performance and availability the platforms’ CDN, backend and frontend servers point toward a possible issue in backend or database systems within Facebook’s own internal network, which all four services rely on.

The timings do show a fall in latency from around the time access issues became widely reported — a sign that usage of the services fell significantly during the evening of 13 March manifesting in reduced round-trip times.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are typically preceded by an increase in latency and outages, of which there is no obvious sign in the dataset, which covers three days up to the present.

The findings are consistent with user reports, which show that the sites can generally be accessed but present error messages.

The outages come weeks after Facebook announced plans to merge the platforms, raising concerns over the risks of centralization and concentration of social media platforms.

Facebook has not yet released a detailed public incident report.

Update: 3:00 PM 14 March 2019 UTC: Network measurements from across the US show a large spike in latency across Facebook online properties at 11 AM UTC (4 AM PDT) this morning. The cause of the new incident unclear but indicates that problems are ongoing, as users continue to report difficulty using the services:


Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.

NetBlocks is an internet monitor working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives to deliver a fair and inclusive digital future for all.

press | contact ] Graphics and visualizations are provided for fair use in unaltered form reflecting the meaning and intent in which they were published, with clear credit and source attribution to NetBlocks. Intellectual property rights are protected including but not limited to key findings, facts and figures, trademarks, copyrights, and original reporting, are held by NetBlocks. Citation and source attribution are required at the point of use.