19 Jun #FacebookDown, the world of modern technology
Facebook, one of the world’s largest stores of social information and one of the most accessed websites on the planet, went down this morning for approximately twenty minutes. This was a large outage, affecting people from the USA to Bahrain. Twitter usage went through the roof, as office workers in the UK arrived and immediately felt confused, panicked and lost with the absence of their beloved Facebook.
Does anyone remember what to do with our lives when Facebook is down?
— Heelbook (@Heelbook) June 19, 2014
Facebook down? Stay tuned for emergency broadcasts & zombies in the streets. This is how it ends.
— Craig Wallace (@CraigWtweets) June 19, 2014
Phew, Facebook is back after the world's longest and most terrifying 25 minutes in internet history! http://t.co/cWXvtAjQA0
— Mint Design (@MintDesignNZ) June 19, 2014
After a brief absence, the network promptly returned, but not before making national newspapers such as The Independent and The Guardian. Not only this, companies were able to devise their own micro-marketing campaigns in less than half an hour, notably Nestle’s KitKat.
— Nestle KitKat PH (@kitkat_ph) June 19, 2014
Whilst it’s all been treated in good humour on Twitter, maybe due to a rivalry and vague sense of contempt between the two user bases, it does point out how our world has changed. Not just our somewhat worrying need to be connected to Facebook on a semi-permanent basis, but rather the expectations we place upon technology.
Whilst it is reasonable to expect a website with the user base, financial clout and information sensitivity of Facebook to have numerous back-up systems and failsafes to prevent blips such as these, they can happen. And if they can happen to Facebook, they can happen to anyone. And this can have knock-on effects. Here’s The Guardian’s referral traffic this morning. As Facebook collapsed, so too did the Guardian’s readership.
(Source: The Guardian)
Similarly, watch Twitter’s usage this morning as use of the hashtag #facebookdown went through the roof.
(Source: The Guardian)
It’s quite terrifying that one website, down for twenty minutes, can have that kind of effect.
Quite often at Geonet we are phoned by clients whose websites are suffering a technical issue. And a large amount of the time, these issues are being caused by integration with third party services who have changed their API, or are suffering a temporary downtime. I’m quite sure there are hundreds of web designers and digital agencies who were telephoned this morning, being asked why the Facebook like button on their website was broken.
This morning’s outage reminds us that technology, whilst operated by machines, runs on coding systems created by humans. They are built on hardware created by humans. There are can be crashes, overloads, bugs and issues on even the largest systems in the world. Just ten years ago, it would be common place for your entire Windows PC or Mac to crash right in the middle of doing something important. These things happened. And they still do happen, although thankfully, less frequently.
As we continue to become more connected with, and dependent upon technology, the onus falls upon the technology specialists to develop evermore reliable systems to ensure downtime stays to a minimum. After all, societal expectation is growing swiftly, and this trend’s not going to reverse anytime soon. Although, perhaps it’s time to consider something genuinely new:
— DiGi (@DiGi_Telco) June 19, 2014