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Facebook has blamed a “faulty configuration change” for an outage that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its apps and services, including Whatsapp and Instagram, for nearly six hours.

The platforms crashed on Monday afternoon, with users unable to send or receive messages or refresh their news feeds.

In a Facebook post after the service had been restored, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are coming back online now.

“Sorry for the disruption today – I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”

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Security experts have said an inadvertent mistake or sabotage by an insider were both plausible reasons for the unprecedented outage.

Facebook said: “To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage across our platforms.

“We’ve been working as hard as we can to restore access, and our systems are now back up and running.

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