By David Meyer
August 23, 2017

Many Facebook users in Europe and elsewhere found themselves unable to access the social network through their desktop computers for a few hours on Wednesday morning, thanks to a mistake introduced to the website’s code.

The problem began around 11 a.m. Central European Time, though it appeared to have cleared up around three-and-a-half hours later.

It did not seem like an outright outage, as it remained possible to access the site through certain browsers, such as Opera or Microsoft’s Edge. However, some Google Chrome users trying to access it were shown an error message saying the site “can’t be reached.”

It was possible to bypass this problem by holding down the shift key and pressing the refresh button in the browser—this action bypasses the versions of webpages that browsers store in their caches in order to load the pages more quickly. However, subsequent attempts to refresh the page, or even just clicking on any of the links in the website, again showed Facebook to be inaccessible. That meant it was possible to use the site, but not easily.

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The problem appeared to be scattered. Users in the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, and even Australia posted complaints on Twitter about being unable to access Facebook’s desktop site. However, some users had no problems, even when using Chrome.

A Facebook spokesperson indicated the incident was caused by a Javascript code change, which the company quickly identified and reverted.

“Earlier today some people may have had trouble accessing Facebook on the desktop version of Chrome for a short period of time. We’re back to 100 percent for everyone, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience,” the spokesperson said.

This article was updated after the problem cleared up and again after Facebook identified the cause and apologized.

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