Fact Check: Military Did NOT Disrupt Facebook By Seizing Its Servers On October 4, 2021 -- Outage Was Caused By Technical Difficulties

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Military Did NOT Disrupt Facebook By Seizing Its Servers On October 4, 2021 -- Outage Was Caused By Technical Difficulties Router Issues

Did the military disrupt Facebook's operations on October 4, 2021, by seizing the social media platform's servers at its headquarters? No, that's not true: Facebook, along with its acquired social media platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, experienced an outage for several hours on the stated date. According to Facebook, the outage was caused by configuration changes to some of the platform's routers.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) published on October 4, 2021. The caption of the video read "Holy Shiz! FB servers have been seized!" The person in the video stated:

Breaking news guys. The military just went into Facebook headquarters in California and took all their servers. Facebook is now down indefinitely. Here we go. Stay woke.

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

wake_up_girl_2 on TikTok

Holy Shiz! FB servers have been seized! #fyp #fyp #viral #facebook #instagram #patriots #america #servers #military #itshappening #fb #share #tiktok

Although the Facebook outage lasted for about six hours on October 4, 2021, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are running again at the time of writing. This indicates that the company's servers are in place. A statement from Facebook's engineering team published on the day of the outage read:

Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.

Our services are now back online and we're actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear that there was no malicious activity behind this outage -- its root cause was a faulty configuration change on our end. We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime. (Updated on Oct. 5, 2021 to reflect the latest information)

In an email to Lead Stories on October 5, 2021, Tom Parnell, a communications manager at Facebook, confirmed that the claim was not true.

Lead Stories also reached out to the Department of Defense for more information about the claim. We will update the story with any response.

(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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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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