What do we do when Facebook goes down?
2nd Oct // 2015
On the evening of Monday 28th September 2015, for the second time in less than a week, Facebook users were greeted with a “Sorry, something went wrong” message when trying to access the social networking site. We all know that downtime isn't ideal for any website, but the problem becomes serious when you're the 2nd most visited domain in the world and your company makes thousands of pounds every minute. Facebook were, of course, pretty quick to acknowledge their mistakes and apologise but this didn't stop some instant repercussions.
The reaction most users had was simple: flock to Twitter. Google Trends clearly shows the uplift in searches for Twitter at the same time many were panicking at the concept of not being able to access Facebook. Searches for “Facebook down” peaked at around 20:30, the same time searches for “Twitter” hit their high over the 24 hour period.
This is great for Twitter (as long as the sudden influx of sessions doesn't bring their website down) but it doesn't look to have any real lasting effect. As soon as Facebook was live again searches for Twitter returned to their normal levels. Users aren't heading South for the winter here, they're simply taking a diversion while their normal route is closed.
I think this clearly demonstrates our reliance on both social networking in general and specifically Facebook. Individuals rely more than ever on a platform to communicate socially and digitally and when that isn't there for whatever reason, they'll seek out an alternative. This goes way past the habits of an individual though, as other digital companies were hit by the recent Facebook outage. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and Tinder, which uses Facebook user data, were both down or impaired for some time on Monday evening too.
So what can we learn from this little outage? Uptime can't be guaranteed 100% of the time, no matter what size of business you are. Steps can be taken to increase uptime in the vast majority of situations and it's always recommended that these solutions are one of the first things on your to-do list. One popular solution that can be implemented is using multiple servers and load balancers, rather than a single dedicated server. This type of system helps to lessen the strain on resources and is ideal for managing any spikes in traffic. If one of your competitors sites went offline, you want to ensure that you're there to not only bridge the gap, but ensure that they migrate to you as their first choice in the future.