On Monday of this week, Facebook as well as other apps owned by Facebook, like Instagram and Messenger, experienced a full system outage for about six hours. As a result, many users were not able to log into their accounts, instead receiving an error message upon visiting the sites’ URLs. The problem has since been fixed—everyone should be able to log into their accounts now—, and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of foul play. Santosh Janardhan, a VP of Infrastructure at Facebook, stated in a blog post released shortly after Facebook’s service had been restored that “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted [network] communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.” In other words, a technical problem in one part of Facebook’s infrastructure led to problems throughout their entire system.
The outage was the capstone in series of scandals for Facebook, all occurring in the space of a few days. On Sunday, the weekly news show 60 Minutes aired a long interview with Frances Haugen on CBS. Haugen had worked in various roles for several social media platforms for about a decade and a half, including Facebook. She resigned from Facebook in May, claiming to take issue with the way Facebook’s algorithm amplified the spread of what she believed was politically divisive content. When she left, she took thousands of internal documents with her, which she claims detailed Facebook’s continued enabling of said content, in spite of knowing about it and in spite of it curtailing Facebook’s mission to connect people. The 60 Minutes interview was the first time she leveled her criticisms publicly. Before this, she had leaked the documents to the Wall Street Journal, which published a series of exposes beginning in September, detailing the alleged effects of Facebook’s policies on its users. Haugen testified before Congress on Tuesday. After the 60 Minutes interview aired, Facebook’s stock prices tanked. Then, to top it all off, their services inexplicably crashed, leaving many who rely on Facebook to communicate and do business in the dark.
The Effects of Social Media on People’s Lives
The outage shows how much people have come to rely on social media to perform day to day communications as well as conduct business. Everyone from clothing manufacturers to news outlets to nonprofits to hardware stores use Facebook and its sister apps to advertise and communicate with their customers.
Arguably, it also shows how fragile large, highly-centralized tech platforms can be. If a technical glitch was able to derail Facebook’s entire system, imagine what damage an even larger glitch (or security breach) might cause. It’s not impossible to think that firms who rely on large social media platforms to compete would be indelibly hobbled if Facebook apps would experience a long-term crash, never mind all the damage that could occur from users’ data being compromised.
As such, firms need to have a backup plan in place to minimize damage in the event of such an occurrence. They need to have good practices in place to protect both their workers’ and their clients’ information when communicating over Facebook. They also need to have—literal—backups ready to go if their typical means of communication becomes unsafe. Lastly, they need to develop a multi-pronged marketing strategy, one that doesn’t lean too heavily on a single platform. A trustworthy managed IT provider like Titan Tech can help your firm create a safety net to preempt any worst-case scenarios. To learn more about how Titan Tech can help your business, fill out their contact form to schedule a consultation.
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