Facebook Goes Down without Explanation

Today many Facebook users woke up to realize that their Facebook accounts were not accessible from their computers. While the mobile app seemed to be working, the actual website itself was down for many. The problem, however, did not seem to be global. While some users reported being able to access their Facebook accounts (such as those in Mexico, Austria, and Canada), others (such as those in the United States) were left without the ability to indulge in their morning Facebook routine.

A Lack of Communication

The outage itself was cause for concern for many Facebook enthusiasts. Another concern, however, was Facebook’s lack of communication regarding the outage. In the past, we here at Alertra have discussed the importance of communicating the details of outages and downtime with the public. With this widespread outage affecting millions, Facebook remained silent. At the time of this post, no public information had been released and no information or explanation had been given by the social media giant. The silence didn’t mean Facebook wasn’t working to resolve the issue. When watching the site’s progress on Downwhere.com, the status of the outage went from severe to moderate in just hours. In the world of website downtime, however, we all know that an outage that lasts hours in unacceptable and that “moderate” still isn’t a green light for uptime. What is also concerning is that the outage wasn’t global. If users in countries other than the United States could easily access their Facebook accounts, it would be safe to assume that the outage in the U.S. could have been easily corrected by rerouting traffic and data to other servers.

How the Problem Should Have Been Handled

With Facebook serving millions of members, communication regarding outages is crucial. Facebook is one of the main players in the social media world. One would think that they would know how to utilize social media outlets, such as Twitter, to communicate an outage and the reason for the outage to their customers. It’s important to remember that no matter how big or small your site may be, communication is essential when it comes to letting your customers (or members) know how much you value them. Ideally, Facebook should have released a statement regarding the outage as soon as the outage was made apparent. Alertra customers are able to do this because they know the moment their sites go down. Then updates regarding the outage should have been released as the outage became extended in its duration. And speaking of the duration of the outage, a company as big as Facebook should have been able to get things back up and running moments, not hours. Today’s Facebook issue is a perfect example of why you need to have a plan in place for when your site experiences unplanned downtime. First, make sure you know how you are going to communicate with your customers. For example, utilizing Twitter to announce that an outage has occurred and how long your site is expected to be down is an ideal way to handle the public relations aspect of unplanned downtime. Then make sure you have contingency plans in place to get your site back up and running as quickly as possible. We all know the havoc that unplanned downtime can wreak on a website’s image. While Facebook may not suffer long-term effects due to this experience, smaller websites would not likely fare as well in the same situation.