Facebook and its subsidiaries, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, experienced an outage on October 4, 2021 — which lasted for more than seven hours.
Security experts have discovered that the cause due to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) withdrawal of the IP address prefixes in which Facebook’s Domain Name Servers (DNS) were hosted.
In Layman’s term, the DNS and BGP routing information which would help users access Facebook’s servers suddenly disappeared. While the DNS servers were still operating properly, they were unreachable.
How is this related to centralisation then?
Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and its other subsidiaries are all connected to one central computer. This type of model is what we call “centralisation.” Since all of the platforms rely on that one central computer, the entire system can crash along with the central computer if anything happens to it.
Decentralisation, on the other hand, does not rely on a single central owner. Instead, the system has multiple central owners. If one goes down, the other can continue working without a problem.
Today’s total collapse of Facebook and Instagram, among other apps, illustrates the problem with centralization.
On the decentralised web, or Web 3.0, it would make it easier for users to port their data and contacts over to other services, as they wouldn’t be dependent on Facebook or a Facebook login to contact their friends and family or use their favorite apps.
Matthew Gould, CEO and Founder of Unstoppable Domains
While the root of the outage was ultimately DNS-related, this illustrates the importance of an open and decentralised internet. Aside from being less susceptible to a system outage, users are also able to take full ownership of their data.
The aftermath of the outage has led Facebook’s market cap to fall from $967.1 billion to $919.78 billion, now lower than Bitcoin’s market cap of approximately $968 billion.