Okay, I have had several questions today about this one. It’s a challenging one to troubleshoot because often the issue where Facebook doesn’t display photos or doesn’t display photo descriptions is sometimes an issue with Facebook and sometimes it’s an issue with individual computer settings or even networks.
The key is to follow the troubleshooting steps outlined below. Here’s the crux of the questions I hear.
Do you know why my Facebook images are not loading? I keep trying to view Facebook on my laptop and a lot of the photos show as blank and have text that says “no photo available” or “no photo description is available”. Is it a computer problem or something with Facebook? How can I tell?
Understanding Why These Facebook Issues Exist
The reality is Facebook, and therefore Instagram and WhatsApp are experiencing issues periodically and these types of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp problems are becoming more and more frequent. Sometimes the Facebook photos aren’t loading properly, sometimes Instagram is slow, and other times WhatsApp gives a connection timed out error. Believe it or not, all three of these issues could be related.
Since all three social networks are owned and operated by the same parent company, they all share common technology platforms. This means that when there is an issue that impacts Facebook, the it’s possible the same issue could impact WhatsApp and Instagram, as well.
I wrote this post on a day when there was a pretty sizeable issue with the Facebook network, but for those of you who are experiencing this later than this publication date, I thought I’d jot down a few ways for you to troubleshoot Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp problems when things are going wonky.
By “wonky” I mean:
- Facebook pictures are not loading
- WhatsApp messages aren’t displaying or being delivered
- You are seeing text instead of photos that says something like “No photo description available” or “image may contain: one or people sitting outside” or something like that (I’ll cover what that is later).
- You can’t upload a new photo to Facebook or Instagram
- You can’t edit or update an existing photo on Facebook or Instagram
- You are getting timeout errors in WhatsApp
- Facebook Messenger tells you there is an unread message when there isn’t (click for this fix)
- Instagram photos not showing up or taking a long time to display
- Facebook is acting…well…generally wonky.
For today, the issue is really one related to Facebook’s network and their ability to render photos. So, users are seeing a few photos but lots of boxes with text in them that look like this:
NOTE: In the case of this specific outage, it is interesting to see a glimpse of the Facebook meta that its algorithms are trying to apply to specific photos. In this case, we can see that the algorithms are trying to identify what is going on in the photo, whether the photo contains people, pets, etc…and the location of the photo. An interesting side-effect to the outage.
For those of you who are reading this in the future, maybe this is the same issue you are experiencing. In this case, it’s a Facebook issue and you just have to wait it out.
Taking Steps To Troubleshoot Facebook Issues
If your issue isn’t the same, here are the steps I take to troubleshoot Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp issues.
Step 1 – Check To See If Facebook Is The Problem
Before you waste a bunch of time troubleshooting your browser and/or computer, check to see if the problem is actually just with Facebook. There are a number of ways I do this:
Check The Facebook Developer Site
You would think that Facebook would tell us if there is an issue, right? Sometimes they do…sometimes they don’t.
If you think about it, it’s not really in their best interest to tell everyone there is a problem. Users might start tweeting instead. Shareholders might start questioning whether they should own Facebook stock. The board might start questioning whether they have the right leadership in place.
Basically, in there eyes it’s not a good idea for Facebook to tell us when there are issues.
Sometimes, though, they do announce issues to the developers at https://developers.facebook.com/status/dashboard/. It’s pretty hit or miss, though.
For instance, earlier today there were no issues:
Facebook developer site was reporting no issues when clearly there were.
This afternoon, however, because they couldn’t fix the issue and cover it up quickly, there is an announcement:
Since they couldn’t fix it quickly without announcing it, they have opened a ticket with the Facebook issue.
Check DownDetector To See If Facebook, Instagram, Or WhatsApp Are Down
If you are wondering “is Facebook down today” then a little more reliable way to see if a site is down is to check Down Detector. This site pays attention to the APIs and services of a lot of major sites, as well as monitoring popular channels like Twitter to see if users are reporting outages.
Down Detector is a good tool check to see if a major network is down
Personally, I find Down Detector to be a little more reliable and more expedient when it comes to reporting major issues.
Tip – Down detector won’t just check to see if Facebook is completely down, it will also check to see if some of the key technologies behind Facebook are working, like their image CDN. This is a good way to check to see if something is wrong when Facebook is not loading properly. So if your picture is not available or a photo is not available, it might just be part of Facebook that is malfunctioning, even though the social network is technically “up”.
Here are some quick links to some of the Facebook-owned channels:DownDetector is often a better way to check for major network outages that checking with Facebook. Click To Tweet
Check Twitter To See If Facebook Is Down
Yeah, I know is sounds weird to check Twitter to see if Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp aren’t working, but it works. Check out these hashtags and you’ll be able to tell whether these sites are misbehaving:
Just check out this screen capture from today. Yes…there are definitely issues.
Twitter hashtags can tell you when Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp are down.
If there are no issues reported through those various services, it’s time to start looking more closely at your PC or Mac to see if there are other issues that might be causing problems.
Step 2 – Restart Your Browser
It’s possible that it’s not Facebook at all. When browser cache’s get full or too many windows/tabs are chewing up your CPUs, it’s possible that you just need to restart Chrome, Firefox, Safari…whatever browser you use.
If you restart your browser and the issue still persists, then it might not be your browser. To validate this, though, try opening Facebook in a different browser and see if the problems still exists.
If Facebook misbehaves in Chrome, but works in Firefox…then the issue might be a problem with a Chrome extension or Ad Blocker that you have installed.
If restarting the problem doesn’t fix it, move on to the next step.
Step 3 – Restart Your Browser In Safe Mode To Disable Any Extension or Ad-Blockers
OK, so the problem still persists in your browser of choice. The next step is to restart that browser in safe mode and see if it still is giving your the errors.
To restart your browser in safe mode, the steps are:
1) Close all open browser. All of them. Honestly, I would close every application and just focus on troubleshooting your browser issue.
2) For Chrome, just open Chrome and then click the “New Incognito Window” option from the menu in the upper-right corner.
To start Chrome in safe mode, just open a new Incognito window.
By starting a new Incognito window, Chrome will load the browser without any active plugins or extensions. Now, just browse to Facebook and see if the issue still exists.Starting your browser in safe mode can sometimes help you troubleshoot problems with sites like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Click To Tweet
3) For Firefox, the best way is to open Firefox and then choose “Restart with Add-ons Disabled…”. By doing this, Firefox will restart and none of your plugins or extensions will be enabled. Once restarted, browse to Facebook and see if there are still problems.
Starting Firefox in safe mode can help you troubleshoot issues.
4) Unfortunately, Safari doesn’t really have a “safe mode” like Chrome and Firefox do. Instead, reboot your Mac and hold the shift key while it boots. That will start your operating system in safe mode and will allow you to troubleshoot to see if Safari is the issue.
Once rebooted into safe mode, just open Safari and then browse to Facebook to check whether the issue still exists.
If the problem still exists despite restarting the browser in safe mode, the next step is just restarting your computer.
Step 4 – Restart Your Computer
I know, I know…it seems like such a simple task. However, I am guilty of leaving my PC on and using sleep mode for weeks at a time. After I’m done at work, I just put my laptop to sleep, go home, and wake it up.
Then, when I leave for work I just put it to sleep again and go to work.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat….for weeks at a time.
Unfortunately, this isn’t really a good strategy for overall stability. So, if your computer is acting up just restart it.
Step 5 – Switch From WiFi To A Wired Connection Or Vice-Versa
It’s possible that the problem isn’t Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp at all. Maybe it’s your internal network or Internet Service Provider (ISP).
If your network ISP is having issues, it’s more likely that you’re going to see issues that span beyond just Facebook. Google searches might fail, Twitter might give you crazy errors. You might see browser errors that the site has timed-out.
If you are seeing issues like across multiple sites, it might be your network or ISP.
If you are using a wired connection using a network cable that connects your computer to a jack in the wall, you might try switching over to a WiFi network. If that resolves the issue, then you might need to check your adapter, connections, or router.
If you’re on WiFi, try switching to another WiFi network or connecting via a wired connection. If switching networks helps, then it’s possible your router might be the issue.
If you’re at home on a PC that doesn’t have a WiFi adapter, then you can always check to see if Facebook is experiencing issues using your mobile device. Just be sure you aren’t connected to WiFi.
Try testing Facebook over a 4G connection and if no issues are present, it’s likely your network or ISP are having issues.
Step 6 – Restart Your Router
If you followed the steps above and you think your network or ISP might be the issue, then first try restarting your router.
My XFi router is a fan-powered and a bit dusty. Not a good combination. Time to dust it off so it doesn’t overheat.
Just like your PC, it does need to be restarted occasionally. While you’re at it, dust it off and give it a good cleaning with a can of compressed air.
If you don’t keep your router clean, it can overheat and that will definitely degrade performance and cause issues.
Step 7 – Check With Your Service Provider To See If There Are Issues.
I hate calling my ISP too. Long wait periods, cruddy support, just a dissatisfying experience. Sometimes, though, it’s a necessary evil.
If you have determined that there are no reported issues and nothing seems to be wrong with your local network or WiFi connections, then you might just need to contact Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, or whoever your Internet Service Provider is.
Give them a call, open a chat, or tweet at them. Hopefully, they can help you out.
Step 8 – Try Contacting Facebook Or Instagram
If you think the issue might be a problem with your Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp account, here are some posts that might help you get in touch with their customer support teams:
- [ANSWERED] How Do I Contact Facebook Support When I Need Help?
- [ANSWERED] How Do I Contact Instagram Support When I Need Help?
Step 9 – Wait It Out
If you have tried everything else, maybe just wait a while.
Go outside. Read a book. Talk to your family.
Do something non-internet related.
Who knows, it might fix itself in a few hours.
I hope these tips help folks who are troubleshooting issues with Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. If you have a tip that seems to work for you, be sure to share it in the comments. It’s always great when we help each other.
Thursday 9th of December 2021
If you must see the image quickly I've found if you right click a blank image and select "open image in a new tab" you will see the image.
Tuesday 10th of September 2019
Tuesday 10th of September 2019
I guess a lot of facebook users don't really know about this: For those of you who are reading this in the future, maybe this is the same issue you are experiencing. Thanks for share
Wednesday 3rd of July 2019
Thanks, Sean. One other tip that I use is to follow the Facebook Business page. Since they know that they might lose money if their advertisers stop publishing because of outages, they are pretty good about giving status updates.
Hope that helps! Ellie
Sean R. Nicholson
Wednesday 3rd of July 2019
Great tip, Ellie. Thanks for sharing!! --Sean