The Facebook website and mobile apps went offline for 40 minutes on Monday afternoon, the second short outage in a week and the third in three weeks, blaming, engineers tinkering, which was the reported cause for the previous outages.
Now what is a minor annoyance or disruption for the ordinary user, or benefit if it gives you the chance to have a cuppa and catch up on work, has real-world consequences for organisations. Starting with Facebook themselves, their share price took a 4% hit (£56 a share) or 1% for every ten minutes. Then there are the cascading consequences for other apps and websites that use Facebook as their primary login method or are built on Facebook’s structure. Tinder, the popular dating app, is the highest profile example. There are also the hundreds of thousands of Facebook advertisers whose campaigns may have been postponed or lost as a result of the unscheduled stoppage – Facebook has to take their concerns seriously and make amends in short order.
Other social networks, primarily Twitter, had a lot of fun at their expense, providing an outlet for frustration and also underlining their own robust systems but the little blue bird and others are just as susceptible to a malfunctioning algorithm or even something as minimal as a 0 retyped as an O. Computers are unlike people in that there is no shade of grey regarding their operating parameters. A program either runs or it doesn’t – there is no nearly right here.
Such rare events also illustrate the danger of building a business model or primary presence on a platform that is ultimately out of your control – both proprietary and technically. If you have a website, it is very unlikely that the internet will go down as there are a myriad of redundancies and work round’s to avoid it. A single site or platform is much narrower and easier to disable no matter how popular or famous.
Facebook has a lot of engineers and data scientists who can solve and fix issues and game plan for likely future offline incidents. In honour of #FacebookDown, maybe you should game plan your own social survival strategy if your main showroom simply vanishes into thin air…