Fact Check: Facebook's Master Code Was NOT Deleted, Facebook And Instagram Are NOT 'Gone Forever'

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Facebook's Master Code Was NOT Deleted, Facebook And Instagram Are NOT 'Gone Forever' Claims

Was the "Master Code" of Facebook deleted, putting Facebook and Instagram in jeopardy of being "gone forever"? No, that's not true. After an outage lasting most of Monday, October 4, 2021, the two social media platforms were up and running again and Facebook said it had been fighting a network issue, not master code deletion.

The claim appears in an article published by Barstool Sports on October 4, 2021, titled "Facebook's Master Code Reportedly Deleted Which Means Facebook And Instagram Would Be Gone Forever" (archived here), which opened:

Good gracious alive! It's very interesting that all this is happening the day after 60 Minutes (yes the same 60 Minutes your grandparents watched) had a bombshell of a report that everyone with a brai...

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Facebook's Master Code Reportedly Deleted Which Means Facebook And Instagram Would Be Gone Forever

Good gracious alive! It's very interesting that all this is happening the day after 60 Minutes (yes the same 60 Minutes your grandparents watched) had a bombshell of a report that everyone with a brai...

Even after many users' service became available again on the evening of October 4, 2021, Facebook's Twitter notice apologized and said the problem was in networks, not in code:

At 1 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, October 4, 2021, Speedtest.net, an internet speed-checking service, said the Facebook outage was one of the largest ever, posting on its website:

The Facebook outage continues and has become the largest outage we've ever seen on Downdetector® with over 10.6 million problem reports from all over the globe. The U.S. had the most reports at over 1.7 million followed by Germany (1.3 million), the Netherlands (915,000), the United Kingdom (789,000) and Italy (400,000).

(Editors' Note: Facebook is a client of Lead Stories, which is a third-party fact checker for the social media platform. On our About page, you will find the following information:

Since February 2019 we are actively part of Facebook's partnership with third party fact checkers. Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook's systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.

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  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

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