Three of the biggest apps, platforms and services in the world are inaccessible right now with global reports of outages accessing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Of course, if you didn’t know, all three are owned by Facebook, so the outages are linked rather than being a co-ordinated attack on three seperate sites.

For users, you’ll be seeing either old content, or no content at all on Facebook and Instagram, while WhatsApp won’t allow you to send or receive new messages.

Accessing Facebook from a browser gives a DNS error, which points to one of three likely scenarios.

Firstly, an error in a configuration at Facebook for their services. DNS is the Domain Name System that allows us to navigate the internet.

When you type into a browser, the DNS system translates that into a number (a unique address on the internet) which then allows the traffic to get to and from the destination.

If this was a configuration error, you would assume it would be easily restored. Given the outage has now been some hours that seems unlikely.

Facebook’s Andy Stone acknowledged the outage on rival social network Twitter:

The second scenario here is an outage at Facebook’s DNS servers, which is something that happened earlier this year to major Australian banks when a downstream service provider of theirs went down. However, the likelyhood of a global outage of that nature seems extraordinary.

A final scenario, which grows in likelihood as the hours go on, is that this is a concerted attack on Facebook’s services. Given the importance of Facebook on a global level in terms of the sharing of information and messaging via WhatsApp this has the potential to cripple large parts of the way we share and communicate, as such it’s a viable target for muckraking or state actors.

Let’s just err on the side of muckraking activists for now, but whatever the case, Facebook’s engineers will be working overtime right now to sort it out.

Meanwhile, Twitter took the chance to recognise a likely spike in their traffic today: