Facebook and its family of apps — including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus — began flickering back online late Monday, after being down for more than five hours and disrupting the digital lives of billions of its users.

A Facebook spokesman confirmed that the services were slowly coming back online, but cautioned that it would take some time for the services to stabilize.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other apps owned by the social network went down on Monday at around 11:40 a.m. Eastern time.

It was highly unusual to have so many apps go dark from the world’s largest social media company at the same time. More than 3.5 billion people use Facebook and its apps to communicate with one another and conduct business.

Facebook employees also were cut off from email, internal communication tools, and physical access to building sites because of the outage.

The company did not disclose the cause of the outage. Security experts said the problem most likely stemmed instead from a misconfiguration of Facebook’s server computers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.

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