Instagram outage forces millions to look directly at the world for nearly half an hour

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Photo-sharing app and social network Instagram was briefly taken offline on Monday afternoon, causing nothing of consequence to occur other than a brief respite from one source of the constant deluge of inconsequential information to which we all voluntarily submit ourselves.

The service died at about 4:20, tragically the very moment when millions of people were turning to the app, for the third time that hour, desperately hoping to pass the time until the end of the workday. At least this was the case on the west coast of the U.S., the only location we are considering at this time.

The app launched fine but did not refresh feeds, and users were unable to scroll past however many posts were already cached; stories, which are also cached, were accessible but couldn’t be posted. I was able to send messages, but others weren’t.

Amazingly, even the website went down, and hard. Visitors received a “5xx Server Error,” which is not common — usually a server knows which of the various error codes to return. It seems to be back now, though.

The outage appeared to end at about quarter of five, which means many of us are still at our desks, if we’re lucky enough to have them. If you were affected, here’s hoping your half hour was spent productively.

I’ve contacted Instagram for comment on what caused the outage and will update if I hear back.

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