UMSL Business Blog

Social Media Outage: How 5 hours Offline Shook the World of Business

By Maya Harter & Katie Basler

On Monday, October 4th, the world of business went through an extreme shock when Facebook and associated apps were inaccessible for over 5 hours. This included Facebook’s broad network of Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus.

Twitter Responds to Facebook Outage

Twitter welcomes everyone after Facebook and Instagram users flooded the site.

According to the New York Times, error messages started around 11:40 AM, and the site was almost immediately wiped from the internet. With over 3.5 billion users, this put an immediate halt to the regular social connections, political messages, and business activity that takes place largely on these sites. Since Facebook is interconnected with many business activities, this led to many other effects such as retail sites and even outages of household smart TVs and thermostats. 

Employees reported many other issues including work calls and emails, internal communications, and even accessing Facebook’s offices. Facebook’s global security operations deemed this “a HIGH risk to the People, MODERATE risk to Assets and a HIGH risk to the Reputation of Facebook”.

The New York Times reported that this massive outage was the first since 2019, when the site was unavailable for 24 hours. It was determined that this specific issue was related to the server infrastructure responsible for directing traffic between Facebook’s data centers, which was enough to bring services to a halt. Service was restored by a team of 3 at a data center in Santa Clara, who were the only ones with the capability of fixing the issue at hand.

Facebook Response Tweet

Facebook went to Twitter to respond to the outage

Facebook has already had it’s fair share of press this week after former product manager Frances Haugen copied and distributed thousands of pages of Facebook’s internal research to press and lawmakers, known as “The Facebook Files”.  

The effects that this outage had on businesses was catastrophic for some, which only highlighted how essential Facebook and its network is for businesses today. Many businesses rely heavily or even exclusively on Facebook, which is why this event caused such massive ripples in the world of business. Effects across the board included loss of sales, cut off communications both internally and externally, and losing their advertisement platform.

Some of these things may seem minor to a business in just a day’s time, but considering that a vast majority of small businesses utilize these platforms for most business operations, this had a disastrous effect on businesses everywhere. This event brings to light a potential flaw in business systems. Today businesses rely on the internet for many essential operating activities. This has led to many questions and a larger call to action. We must figure out a solution as to how to minimize damage as we move towards an exponentially increasing digital world.