Facebook employees were unable to access critical work tools during six-hour outage

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Facebook employees and contractors complained on Monday that they were unable to log into their work accounts following the company’s worst service outage since 2008.

The outage, which lasted six hours on Monday, not only made it impossible for the company’s three-billion-plus users to access Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp services, but also affected internal systems for employees.

Specifically, employees said the outage was preventing them from accessing the tools they use to track information such as how many people are using certain services, as well as internal chat functions. The workers requested anonymity discussing internal confidential matters.

The outage was so bad that engineers who were tasked with helping resolve service issues were unable to even log on and get involved to fix the issues, one person familiar with the situation told CNBC.

The outage comes a day after Frances Hague, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic integrity team, revealed herself to be the whistleblower behind the numerous internal documents cited in the Wall Street Journal’s “The Facebook Files” series of reports.

One Instagram employee told CNBC that some employees were saying the outage was karma for the recent whistleblower ordeal. The employee added that they felt bad for any creators or brands who had ad campaigns scheduled to roll out on Monday.

Workers have to be online every five minutes to see if something has changed, creating a stressful environment for them, one Facebook contractor told CNBC.

In a text message, a spokesman for the company said his email was not working and directed CNBC to a tweet from Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer as the company’s official statement on the matter.

“*Sincere* apologies to everyone impacted by outages of Facebook powered services right now,” tweeted Schroepfer, who announced his resignation from the company last month. “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”

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