Fixing Facebook Chat (Messaging) on the iPad (iOS) by Opening port 8883 on the Firewall

My darling wife got a new iPad2 for the holidays.  Worked fine while we were out of the house … but as soon as we got home, the Facebook Chat (messaging) feature stopped working, and hung with a permanent “connecting”.  In case you’re not following, “chat” is what shows up in the right-hand column when you use Facebook for the iPad (latest version as of December 2011) in landscape mode (and only shows up in landscape mode).  To restate the problem (and help indexing <g>):  Facebook Chat (aka Facebook Messaging) on the iPad (right-most pane in landscape mode) hung with a “Connecting …” message due to firewall port blocking.

When I connected outside my firewall (directly to my DSL connection) it worked; it didn’t work from behind my firewall.  So … clearly a ports issue … but what ports?

Drove myself crazy trying to figure this out.  Nothing I could find by Googling.  Closest I could come was that Facebook Chat might be using XMPP (TCP ports 5222 and 5223), which makes sense … but opening those ports did nothing to solve the problem.

Eventually, I turned off the firewall (yikes) and turned on WireShark and ran the app.  Doing so, I saw a very strange pattern — connections to Facebook servers on port 8883, which is, technically, the “secure MQTT” port.  Long story short, I enabled TCP port 8883, and Facebook Chat suddenly started working.

Some additional notes:

  • I left XMPP (ports 5222 and 5223) enabled … so you might also need these ports, in addition to 8883.
  • 8883 is strange!  The only meaningful reference I could find was that SameTime, that old Lotus Notes IM app, used it.  Maybe someone at Facebook pilfered some old SameTime code?

If this helps you out, please leave a comment … I’m curious to know who else has encountered this, whether it’s something unique to me, or I just happened to stumble on it first!

5 thoughts on “Fixing Facebook Chat (Messaging) on the iPad (iOS) by Opening port 8883 on the Firewall”

  1. This worked like a charm!

    The Facebook Chat feature worked at Panera Bread’s wireless site, but at our house–it just got stuck in loading mode. I lowered the firewall setting on our Westell 327w modem/router at home (Verizon DSL), and Facebook Chat worked. However I didn’t want to leave the firewall on a low setting permanently.

    Your solution is the only thing that worked. The hardest part for me was learning how to open a port, but a little reading on the internet and then experimenting on the router page (192.168.1.1) led to eventual success.

    Thanks again!

  2. Additional note: a couple weeks later, both her chat and the friends list (on the left) started hanging. But when I checked in my iPad, both were working … it wasn’t until she deleted and reinstalled Facebook on her iPad that they resumed working. Apparently, the Facebook data cache can get corrupted.

  3. I came across the same issue; our recently added iPads got blocked trying to get out our firewall using port 8883. Wasn’t sure what it was; but what you say makes sense, we (sales) use facebook.
    Thanks for the insight.

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