The Global Social Outage - The Negative Effect on Business

Author: Katie Thorne
Published: 2021-10-05

Unless you live under a social media rock, you won’t have missed the news that on Monday 4th October, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all suffered outages which spanned over more than 6 hours, meaning billions of users around the globe were unable to access some of the world’s most popular social networking sites. This was the biggest outage since 2019 when the social media giant was inaccessible across the world for more than 14 hours, promoting a slew of responses from other big tech companies.  

To most people this will have proved to be more of an annoyance. However, to many organisations and businesses this meant completely putting the brakes on their usual activity as they use the Facebook infrastructure for various areas of their workday. There are countless websites, applications and businesses that use Facebook’s network, which affects far beyond just the app users. Many of these platforms are used by businesses to communicate with their clients, customers and even colleagues. This could be anything from new product advertisements to important business notices as well as paid advertising and general organisation communication and collaboration… the list goes on.  


Facebook updated its engineering page at the end of the day with information pointing to the root of the problem: configuration changes in the company's internal hardware.  

Santosh Janardhan, VP Infrastructure posted the statement below explaining the problem and issuing an apology. 

  "To all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused by today’s outage across our platforms. We’ve been working as hard as we can to restore access, and our systems are now back up and running.

The underlying cause of this outage also impacted many of the internal tools and systems we use in our day-to-day operations, complicating our attempts to quickly diagnose and resolve the problem.  

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.  

Our services are now back online and we’re actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change. We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.  

People and businesses around the world rely on us everyday to stay connected. We understand the impact outages like these have on people’s lives, and our responsibility to keep people informed about disruptions to our services. We apologize to all those affected, and we’re working to understand more about what happened today so we can continue to make our infrastructure more resilient."  


Whilst this goes some way to explaining the issues that they suffered, unfortunately it won’t bring back the lost revenue that was caused as a direct result of the outage. It’s reported that Facebook lost up to $100million in revenue during the seven hours down time – not to mention the billions that were wiped from their share price.  

Whilst it won’t take long for Facebook to recover, the people that will have suffered the most are the many small businesses that rely on Facebook advertising as a way of communicating with their customers. Following an iOS privacy update which affected cross-app tracking in 2021, Facebook made a stand that it was acting in the interests of small business owners, many of whom will have bought into these promises – so it will be interesting to see if any support will be given to those businesses who use their marketing budgets on Facebook and Instagram ads, communicate with customers through their messaging platforms, or sell their products through Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping.   

This will be sure to open the eyes of a lot of small businesses to the monopoly of the advertising platform and how quickly outages such as these can affect the market. Now more than ever it is important to have a diverse marketing strategy that allows you to reach your customer in more than one place. With this in mind, we would always recommend keeping your options open within your business to other platforms that would assist with your business needs and work alongside current platforms that work for you.  

 

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