Facebook and its other platforms, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, went down globally for close to six hours on Monday and Tuesday. And it had a big effect on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s wallet.
Just before 5 pm UTC, people began noticing they couldn’t access Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger. It would be more than five hours before services would begin to be restored.
Facebook issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that the cause of the outage was a configuration change to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between the company’s data centres, which had a cascading effect, bringing all Facebook services to a halt.
Not only Facebook was gone, but everything it runs disappeared too. In short, people tried to reach Facebook couldn’t find the path to access it. According to Forbes, the company’s stock plummeted 4.9%, adding to a drop of about 15% since the middle of September.
Cloudflare had its own recent internet outage issues. It provided a detailed explanation of what happened. The Internet is literally a network of networks, so it involves two things- that is Domain Name System (DNS) and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) – bound together by BGP. Now, BGP allows one network (say Facebook) to advertise its presence to other networks that form the Internet.
Basically, BGP is the roadmap that finds the most efficient way to get to that IP address.
How much did the outage cost?
Making its calculation five hours into Monday’s service outage, Snopes established that Facebook had already lost $66 million in ad revenue. For most users, the outage lasted at least another hour.
So if we extend Snopes’ calculation to six hours of downtime, Facebook’s losses increase to a hefty $79 million. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg roughly lost $6 billion personally.
Why did it take so long to fix?
Facebook’s own internal systems operate from the same place so it was hard for employees to diagnose and resolve the problem. Due to the security pass system being caught up in the outage, communications platforms, workplaces, and offices became inaccessible for staff.
Facebook had already indicated the duration and severity of the outage.
“Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt. No evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”
A lot of people rely on Facebook not only to connect with friends and family; businesses use it to log into other services including online sales websites. While, in some countries, it is the dominant means of communication through services like WhatsApp.
“With Facebook being down we’re losing thousands in sales… It may not sound like a lot to others, but missing out on four or five hours of sales could be the difference between paying the electricity bill or rent for the month,” said Mark Donnelly, a start-up founder in Ireland who runs HUH Clothing, a fashion brand focused on mental health that uses Facebook and Instagram to reach customers.
This kind of outage having such a profound impact on billions of people for several hours gives us some pause for thought.
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