Facebook suffered a catastrophic failure on Thursday 23 September which engineers stated was the worst since 2006. The company apologized to its 500 million users for the problem which caused almost 3 hours down-time during mid-day in the US and early evening in Europe.
Although Facebook has not yet revealed the full technical details, it’s understood to have been caused by an error handling bug which caused more damage than it fixed. Facebook had no option but to shut down the service at a time when an estimated 135 million users were attempting to log on. Most were faced with a “DNS failure” message and the news soon spread via Twitter and other services.
It’s been a bad week for the social networks. The Facebook outage was preceded by Twitter worms which exploited a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. However, the problems were not related and the networks are generally reliable.
But what were people to do without Facebook? The outage meant many users had to meet their real friends face-to-face. Let’s hope there wasn’t too much poking.
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.