As a digital agency in Surrey, Thunderbolt Digital always make sure to keep our ear to the ground for any new information, and the ruckus caused by Facebook’s longest ever outage was difficult to miss! So, just what happened on this fateful day that caused the world’s news feeds to stand still?
At approximately 4pm on the 13th March 2019, users started to notice that the Facebook family (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) wasn’t really loading properly. Users across the globe struggled to access their feeds on both desktop and mobile devices, though not every user was affected – despite the issue being a global one, many were still able to access the Facebook family as usual, or with limited functionality.
Twitter was initially thriving at its competitors expense, though eventually experienced problems of its own based on the increased traffic exodus from the Facebook Family, with more than one tweet per second logged with the tags #WhatsAppDown #FacebookDown or #InstagramDown. Meanwhile, the messaging service (and WhatsApp competitor) Telegram gained over 3 million new users over the course of the Facebook outage.
Clocking in at over 14 hours of downtime, this incident is the biggest of its kind to happen to Facebook, with the second largest having happened back in 2010, which lasted for a mere 2.5 hours in comparison. Currently, Facebook has not confirmed what actually caused the outage, and has merely confirmed that “the issue is not related to a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.” which is a deliberate and malicious attempt to overload a website’s traffic. Some believe that it is the result of a BGP error, but that has been dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
Companies are said to have lost thousands in potential revenue (and tens of millions collectively) from sponsored posts and advertisements, with those advertising upcoming events and last minute spots being hit the hardest. Facebook is set to refund businesses over the incident but those who have made deals with influencers may find it harder to retrieve what they have already paid. Companies relying on Facebook Workplace to collaborate with colleagues have also suffered the consequences of lost productivity and hindered communication throughout the day.
This is something of a wake up call for businesses, especially those who may be too reliant on the social media giant. It is also cause for concern following Zuckerberg’s plans to merge the apps as a later date into a single service, with protest from American and European politicians alike, who fear the consequences of an online monopoly and maintain that Facebook should instead be broken up.
Will Facebook finally see some negative consequences even after dodging so much negative press from last year’s scandals? Will users begin to move elsewhere, and will we see legislation step in more heavily? Only time will tell.