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‘Hello literally everyone’: Twitter flooded with users during Facebook, Instagram outage

(Karrastock/Getty Images)

For several hours on Monday, Facebook and its apps Instagram and WhatsApp were down, giving social media users some time to read a book, spend time with loved ones or go outside.

Droves flocked to Twitter instead — to the point where the company was forced to issue an apology for technical issues it said were due to the flood of traffic.

Within two hours of Facebook-owned apps going dark around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, the official Twitter account welcomed “literally everyone” to its platform in a tweet liked by more than 3 million people.

The cause of the outage was a “faulty configuration change” that affected how information flows between routers and data centers, Facebook said in a statement.

The company added it found “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.” Online tracker Downdetector received some 14 million reports of an outage, and Facebook apps started to come back up by 6 p.m. Eastern time.

During that time, the Internet — and especially Twitter — lit up as brands jockeyed for visibility and Facebook’s competitors went after new users.

It was a marketing opportunity for open-source messaging platforms like Signal and Telegram, which have criticized Facebook’s use of its users’ data, and claim to offer a more secure alternative.

The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, who has clashed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the social responsibility of Big Tech and how to handle user data, endorsed a call from former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden to switch from WhatsApp to open-source apps like Signal during the outage.

Twitter noted the impact of the rush of new users:

So did Signal:

Twitter users poked fun at Facebook — and themselves.

Meanwhile, celebrities and other brands joined in on the fun.

While the Facebook and WhatsApp outage was a humorous moment for the Internet, and little more than a momentary inconvenience for some, for millions of people in developing countries it was a devastating and even life-threatening interruption in a platform that has become central to businesses, community life and even the administration of government services.

Much of the world relies on WhatsApp. Its outage ground their virtual lives to a halt.

Maritza L. Félix, the Phoenix-based founder of Conecta Arizona, a Spanish-language news provider on WhatsApp that is read by Hispanic immigrant families, said that many in her audience felt that the outage was akin to having one’s umbilical cord severed.

“WhatsApp is the messaging platform that my community prefers,” Félix said in an interview. “We use WhatsApp for business, pleasure, [family] … even to fall in love.”

Facebook alluded to the added importance of the outage in many countries where WhatsApp is central to life in its statement about the outage: “To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage across our platforms.”

Rachel Lerman and Amy Cheng contributed to this report.

Facebook and its many social media apps including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger went dark for several hours on Oct. 4 during a widespread outage. (Video: Reuters, Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Reuters)