Blog Post

When Facebook goes down, the Internet barely blinks

Facebook went down for a few hours last night, causing people to turn to Twitter to complain, quip and mourn. But despite the outsized reactions from the site’s 901 million users, the web itself barely felt the shock of losing the largest social network on the planet.

Facebook’s traffic profile during yesterday’s outage.

A quick check with Sandvine indicated that Facebook’s faltering didn’t lead to any noticeable traffic dip unlike, say, the huge drop off in traffic that occurred worldwide when digital file locker MegaUpload was taken down. The reason is simple. Facebook deals primarily in words and images, as opposed to video. By the end of this year, video traffic will comprise more than half of the global web traffic according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index that came out this week, so when YouTube (s goog) or a Netflix (s nflx) has a hiccup, any ripples on the web look more like waves.

No Facebook? The Internet didn’t see a change in traffic.

It also looks like Facebook spent a bit more time down later in the evening, as indicated by data from Apica, a web performance startup. It shows that Facebook struggled over the course of last night into the early morning hours between midnight and 3 a.m. PST.

Apica’s chart showing Facebook’s downtime throughout yesterday evening.

Facebook moves fewer packets even as it managed to connect millions. Sandvine estimates that Facebook is the 11th most popular application on the Internet, accounting for 1.5 percent of total traffic. On mobile sites, the social network is third overall in popularity (behind YouTube and HTTP) accounting for 10 percent of total traffic. It just goes to show that some web giants aren’t actually giants on the web.

10 Responses to “When Facebook goes down, the Internet barely blinks”

  1. Stacy – Facebook’s login API, however, seems to have affected some ecommerce sites. This chart paints a story of frustrated customers (who couldn’t log in – sales lost):

    Here’s the full article (http removed in case there’s a link limit for spam)

    BtW – I can’t comment with Twitter or WP as my login – I’m using Mac/Safari.

    • I tried to post this four times – three times with Twitter and once with WP. But it looks like Twitter “won.” Good thing I had the text in clipboard. Very frustrating.

      And this comment? It shows a blank face with a ? — and then under that, “Log out.” Huh? If I’m logged in, my avatar should show up. Pls pass along to the back-end gang.

  2. Madlyb

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned in this article is that while the Web version was down, the various Application versions remained up, so Facebook was not universally down and that would skew the data represented here.

  3. Brett Glass

    Again, in her attempts to deprecate Facebook and favor GigaOm advertiser Google, Stacey Higginbotham completely misrepresents the facts. The truth, as any ISP can tell you, is that Facebook is a bandwidth hog; it forces frequent reloads of complex, data-heavy pages so as to increase its ad presentations (and, hence, its revenues).

      • Brett Glass

        I specialize in truth telling. Something which GigaOm does not do if the truth is inconvenient for a certain large source of advertising revenue.

    • GigaLoam

      So what exactly did Google do to you?

      You take to Twitter daily to actively bash anyone you can project a Google bias on to and seem to have a beef with GigaOM by association.

      Also, please don’t try to act like working for a micro-ISP in a town with a population smaller than that of a large office building makes you any sort of authority.

      • Chris

        “Also, please don’t try to act like working for a micro-ISP in a town with a population smaller than that of a large office building makes you any sort of authority.”

        Right! As opposed to the qualified expertise of a blogger with zero hours of professional or educational background that’s a self-proclaimed expert on networks one hour, semiconductors, the next hour, cloud computing the next, etc.

        It’s the Internet. Anyone can be an expert on anything. All you need is a computer, a basement, and some opinions.