What is BGP, and what role did it play in Facebook’s massive outage

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

On Monday, Facebook was completely knocked offline, taking Instagram and WhatsApp (not to mention a few other websites) down with it. Many have been quick to say that the incident had to do with BGP, or Border Gateway Protocol, citing sources from inside Facebook, traffic analysis, and the gut instinct that “it’s always DNS or BGP.” Facebook is back up and has since released an explanation detailing how BGP was just a part of its woes (and saying that it more or less worked as intended), but this all raises the question:

What is BGP?

At a very basic level, BGP is one of the systems that the internet uses to get your traffic to where it needs to go as quickly as possible. Because there are tons of different internet service providers,…

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