Status ‘Down’: Facebook’s Big Outage
On the morning of March 13th, Facebook and Instagram users started experiencing problems posting and accessing data. At the same time, Downdetector.com--a site where people can check on the status of servers--started getting feedback from users that indeed the three massive social media sites were down.
Much to the dismay of many, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were plagued by server issues. For four hours Facebook remained silent about the nature of the outage, which led to users speculating on the problem.
The speculation ranged from direct denial service attacks (DDoS) on Facebook servers (DDoS attacks flood the servers with more information than they can handle, shutting them down) to a rogue bug fix or too many users logging on at once crashing the site. Seeking alternate social media sites, users flocked to Twitter and Reddit posting memes and commiserating about the situation.
If the issues with Facebook and Instagram had just affected social media users, it would be a much shorter story, however the damage wasn’t limited to people simply being unable to look in on friends and family. Many businesses from real-estate firms to major retailers were impacted. Some even had scheduled Facebook Live sessions to sell products through the site but were left with customers unable to access the platforms. Many advertisers were also affected by the outage and are now requesting refunds from Facebook. Also reported in the outage was any service that tied in a Facebook user ID to another service. Spotify or Occulus Rift users also reported issues with accessing their accounts.
This was the worst outage that Facebook suffered since 2008, which shut the site down for about a day. That outage affected an estimated 80 million users. During this 2019 outage, Facebook had an estimated 2.3 billion users around the world and was down for more than 24 hours.
At around 1:30pm Facebook tweeted out that it was aware of the outage. Facebook didn’t give a reason for it until later that day around 5pm, when it was confirmed that a server configuration change had disrupted its service. The sites were back online mid afternoon the next day. Facebook has yet to address the status of refunds to online retailers and advertisers affected by the outage but has apologized to its users.