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Facebook breakdown highlights the problem of our digital dependence


If you were listening quietly Thursday, you could hear the collective shouts of Instagram influencers who were wondering where their next meal would come from.

Social media users around the world have been left to the task without the positive affirmation on the part of people loving their publications when Facebook's suite of apps dropped for hours yesterday.

The disruption of the network has affected Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, causing a real panic among users.

The duration of the outage was unusual: it lasted about eight hours and reminded us a period before we were inundated with a continuous stream of photos of our friend's baby.

Downdetector, a site that monitors network failures on popular online services, said it was the biggest disruption ever recorded.

"In terms of duration, it's by far the biggest outage since the launch of Downdetector in 2012," Downdetector co-founder Tom Sanders said in a statement.

"Our systems have handled about 7.5 million issues reported by end users during this incident – never before have we had such a failure."

Despite the initial conspiracy theories that hackers were to blame, the reality seems far benign.

Early the next morning, Facebook attributed the fiasco to the problems posed by a change in its servers.

"Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services," she posted on Twitter.

"We have now solved the problems and our systems are recovering, we are sorry for the inconvenience and we appreciate everyone's patience."

While chaos reigned over Twitter, the company quickly rejected speculation, claiming that the problem was a result of a denial of service attack – a type of cyber attack that overloaded the host with a service with superfluous queries.

Facebook's problems came in the wake of major Google issues with Google Drive and Gmail, which paralyzed many workplaces.

This reminds us of how completely dependent we are on the digital pillars of Silicon Valley and that we could feed the ongoing debate on the question of whether they should be dismantled.

A former chief Facebook employee of senior US politicians, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and major media companies, including News Corp Australia, the publisher of the website, have called for the separation of Google and Facebook because of their hold on the spread of online advertising revenue.

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