On Monday, all of Facebook, Inc.’s service went down for about 6 hours which was quite surprising amind its current situation of data privacy and general legal tussle with the US senate.
The company’s executive has issued an apology to its users however, what is certain is that there is no perfect technology – at least yet and that is why issues like this may arise once in a while.
“As if someone pulled the cables from their data centers”
Initially, IT experts assumed that the problem was that Facebook’s system was having a problem connecting to the broader internet.
It was as if “someone had pulled the cables from their data centers all at once and disconnected them from the internet”, explained web infrastructure firm Cloudflare.
However, Facebook’s explanation was a little more technical. The “configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication”. This had a “cascading effect… bringing our services to a halt”.
What really happened to Facebook’s service on Monday?
Rich companies like Facebook can afford to own their own larger networks which are often called autonomous systems.
Due to the breakage of the internet into hundreds of thousands of networks, any computer trying to access Facebook’s site including Instagram or WhatsApp are allowed to do so by the back-end system through a Border Gate Protocol (BGP) which can be described as a postal service for the internet.
In order to direct people to the websites they want to visit, BGP looks at all of the available paths that data could travel and picks the best route.
On Monday Facebook suddenly stopped providing the information the system needed to function.
It meant nobody’s computers had any way of connecting to Facebook or its other sites – if that is simple enough.
The technology behind this type of connectivity is quite complicated and a company as big as Facebook with a huge database requires a lot of systems working in-sync and all of that can easily have issues if not well maintained.
The negative effect of the outage on its billions of users and customers
Facebook’s services are used by billions of people across the globe with WhatsApp being used by individuals and businesses to connect with their pairs and colleagues, the Facebook page also has its own impact on businesses as well ranging from other big techs like Microsoft to smaller ones like Brumpost and so forth.
A global internet outage detection service Downdetector made it known that over 10.6 million problems were reported around the world over the Facebook outage all making it the largest number ever recorded.
The inconvenience the loss of access to Facebook caused to many was just unbearable and the fact that there is definitely no other company like Facebook for sure means that billions of people had to literally wait until the problem was fixed.
All of these can further impact the company’s stance about its monopolistic practices even though it often refers to Twitter as its rival, Twitter is definitely not a replacement for Facebook as both target different audiences and renders different services.
To many, Twitter is a self-publishing microblogging site – an identity which it continued to stick with while Facebook has shown itself to be a general-purpose social networking platform that has all kinds of stuff built into one massive system.
Engineers were possibly off sight
The report about Facebook’s outage began as early as 4:45 PM BST on Monday depending on your region, I also reported about this after I noticed that I couldn’t use Facebook’s short link fb.com/Brumpost to access our company page on the service.
I also noticed my WhatsApp was disconnected despite my internet data working very fine then I did a little digging on the internet and saw it was a global problem.
But later on, the problem persisted for over an hour which was a sure signal that the problem was far worse than I’d thought.
One of the main reasons for the persistent outage was due to the physical absence of engineers to even fix the problem.
According to Sheera Frenkel who is a tech reporter for the New York Times, “the people trying to figure out what this problem was couldn’t even physically get into the building” to work out what had gone wrong.
We don’t yet know whether the issue was due to a software bug or simply a human error.
And as you know, the internet trolls and conspiracy theorists have taken all over the place to voice their own opinion of what might have gone wrong.
Some said Mark Zuckerberg sold the business to demons, some said it’s a deliberate foul play from the company especially over its current hot water it has found itself due to privacy issues and handling.
Facebook apologised on TwitterThe
The company has however issued an apology and went as far as posting this on its so-called rival site Twitter
Mike Proulx – an analyst for research company Forrester – says the incident raises questions about the way Facebook brought lots of its technical operations together in recent years.
He says it made them more efficient but means that if one thing goes wrong there can be “a cascading effect, like old-school Christmas lights where one goes out, they all go out”.
This isn’t the first time that the company will experience an outage however, those were quick to be fixed within an hour.
One could attribute the long-term outage as being one of the impacts of the pandemic due to some of its engineers probably working remotely or at least far away from Silicon Valley.
And this in turn raises questions whether the working of the internet should be in the hands of just a few big companies.
Mark Zuckerberg reportedly lost US$6 billion
The outage definitely took a turn on the company’s stock price and values and the fact that paying customers who were advertising on the platform had their ads paused for over 6 hours will have a momentary dent in the company’s revenue.
There were reports that the company’s boss Mark Zuckerberg lost about US$6 billion of his personal net valuation with its shares dropping nearly 5%.
Others estimate that the loss of revenue to the company could amount to more than $60m.
And this blow to Facebook’s reputation comes at a difficult time when the company is currently battling with the US Senate as one of its many whistleblowers Frances Haugen leaked some internal documents that incriminate the company over its survey that showed that its other product Instagram had a negative mental effect on teens.
The company continues to be a subject of scrutiny by many global regulatory bodies over its responses to things such as misinformation, hate speech, and how it handles users’ personal data.