People were calling the police because Instagram and Facebook were down

US prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the social network's practice of sharing users' data

On Twitter, Facebook blamed the outage on a "server configuration change". But the company said Thursday that it has fixed the problem and that its systems are "recovering".

After acknowledging the problem Wednesday, Facebook remained mum on the issue for almost 24 hours before issuing an explanation and apology around 1630 GMT Thursday.

Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had restored service to its main app and Instagram, after the world's largest social network suffered a major outage that frustrated users across the globe for about 24 hours.

Many Instagram profiles refused to load, Facebook users were faced with empty newsfeeds, and issues sending messages through Facebook's Messenger app, as did WhatsApp users. "We're very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone's patience".

On Wednesday, Facebook denied the outage was due to a cyber attack, though some have questioned if it wasn't an outage caused by a hacker. The hashtag #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown were trending on Twitter for much of the day.

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The last time the social media network had an disruption this big was in 2008. when it had 150 million users, compared to its 2.3 billion monthly users today.

With Facebook down, another messaging platform, Telegram, saw a surge of new signups, Tech Crunch reported. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

No cause has been given but Facebook said it wasn't a distributed denial of service or cyberattack. The outage prompted exasperation from business owners and individuals who rely on Facebook's platforms to communicate, and inspired a flood of derision on Twitter, where some users migrated to stay connected.

Facebook is facing a slew of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and two state agencies in NY.

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