Widespread Outage Affects Facebook Early Thursday Morning
June 19, 2014

Widespread Outage Affects Facebook Early Thursday Morning

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Those who wake up early and expect to read their news feeds on Facebook as a way to start the day had to find another way to get connected on Thursday morning as the social network experienced a major outage. Access to Facebook's website and various apps went down just before 4am ET on Thursday June 19.

The outage lasted about half an hour and apparently affected those Facebook users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel and India. Users who tried to connect to the service received a message that read, "Sorry, something went wrong. We're working on getting this fixed as soon as we can."

The cause of the outage has not been reported, and service was restored in less than hour. Soon after the company quickly issued an apology for the outage.

"We experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time," the company said, as reported by NBC News. "We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100 percent."

The outage was widespread enough that within minutes the Twitter hashtags "WhenFacebookWasDown" and "Facebookdown" began trending globally.

Facebook currently claims to have 1.28 billion users worldwide with more than 80 percent of its users outside of the United States and Canada, so an outage is apparently big news and this story was covered globally. The outage left much speculation as to what might have gone wrong.

"Facebook has servers dotted around the world to serve users in different countries and providing redundancy. A small, single server outage is unlikely to have caused the major issues seen today," the British Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday. "Facebook explains that its automated systems normally detect and fix errors that could lead to outages, but an intentional change in some crucial files was erroneously detected as invalid by the automated systems."

Facebook last suffered a brief outage in October 2013, and its last major outage was in 2010 when the site was unreachable for more than two and a half hours.

The fact that the social network is exactly that – a network – means that there can be all sorts of problems on many levels that can result in such outages, and users shouldn't expect Facebook to be above such problems, say experts.

"People have overblown expectations of reliability from a free service," Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, told redOrbit. "Even with the occasional outrage, Facebook is probably 99.999 percent up. That's pretty impressive for any man-made tool. Things break sometime or need to be taken down."

The outage also shows that for many users it has become such a part of the routine that is just expected to be there like the morning paper and sunrise.

"This causes a stir or Gmail flakes for a couple of minutes," said Billy Pidgeon, independent social media analyst. "When something stops working they freak out. People do depend on technology a lot these days but they don't think about the stuff they use for free might not be there when they want it."

Then there is the fact that this story was so widely covered – yet was little more than a very brief outage.

"People don't want to hear the hard news," Pidgeon told redOrbit. "And the story here is that people are becoming more and more dependent on technology. When it's not there they freak out."