Computer scientist Jeroen Burt after the collapse of Facebook: The Internet is actually a very fragile system

What went wrong with Facebook?

“Facebook has adapted many routers, which communicate with the rest of the Internet via the BGP protocol. Due to a configuration error, the routes to Facebook have disappeared, so no one can send traffic to Facebook anymore. As a result, the work of Facebook is disrupted Other Facebook applications, such as Instagram and Whatsapp.

“This also had consequences for the internal operation of that company. The internal servers depend on the fact that Facebook.com can be traced to an IP address. It took a long time to restore everything. If an error crept into the system controlling the connection, you blow up the connection options yourself. Then You have to actually go to the routers to fix it yourself, which didn’t happen in one, two, three.”

Does it happen so often, wrong with those protocols?

“Yes, it happens regularly. The Internet is actually a very fragile system, there is always something going wrong. But it usually remains a local issue. With a company like Facebook, it is different of course. Many companies using Facebook login have been silent. Yesterday too. Just like companies that use Whatsapp or Facebook for internal communication, or that refer to Facebook or Instagram for contact details or business hours.”

It shows once again how dependent we are on a few big companies.

“Actually. The current system, where we put all our eggs in the baskets of a few large companies, is very weak. For example, last year I had a collapse at Cloudfare, the company that translates google.be. As a result, a large part of the Internet went down. For a while. That’s the risk today. In the past, every website had its own web server. Now we’re centralizing everything with a few big companies. As long as this works, and it usually does, no one cares. It’s also effective from In terms of cost. But we forget to factor in the costs of what happens when things go wrong. If there is a contract failure in Amazon Cloud or Microsoft Azure, which half the Internet uses, it will have dire consequences.”

Should we decentralize the internet again?

“We really have to go in there. That was also the original idea of ​​the internet: a peer-to-peer network. The internet was built to be decentralised, but instead we focus it more and more. We post all our photos and videos to Instagram and YouTube, on servers miles away. Then you are also obligated to play by their rules.

“But slowly but surely, initiatives are coming back to manage our servers again, so we can choose what data we share. It is important that there is software that makes this affordable and easy to use for everyone. Over time, this should become as easy as creating an account on Facebook.”

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Megan Vasquez

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