On Monday, October 4, 2021, for just over six hours, a large minority of people on the planet were without their foremost and primary access to the Internet – Facebook (now Meta), and all the 80 other companies under its umbrella – which stopped loading updated content, going dark, for almost six hours.
For Facebook Down Part 1 – We have discussed the scope and reach of this digital event, the cost to both people and Wall Street.
For Facebook Down Part 2 – We looked at the process itself, determining that it was human error, a process error, rather than hardware or technology that failed.
The Impact Of This Event.
Meta is one of the largest software companies in existence. Facebook is the champion of social media platforms, serving 59% of all social media users, bringing in 27.2 billion in revenue in the last quarter of 2020. Users spend an average of 19.5 hours a month on FB.
There are more than 200 million businesses using Facebook as a business platform, using tools like the Facebook Page (as a web page for contact), Single Sign On, which allows developers to leverage the FB SSO tool as an API into their own software for authentication, as well as using many of the products from sub-companies under Meta’s umbrella for functionality extensions. Fully 86% of marketers use Facebook for advertising, according to EMarketer, each one hitting FB at least 8 times a day. In fact, 78% of America have discovered new consumer products to buy on Facebook.
In January 2021, Meta’s number two application, Instagram, pivoted from being merely a photo-sharing app to a full e-commerce site. There are now full-fledged marketing tools, how-to guides, and a new tab available on the interface that allows you to shop directly from Instagram.
There are countless “Guides to Social Media Marketing” out there that specifically give readers step by step instructions on using Facebook as a baseline for marketing their home business.
Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Quest. Meta also offers developers a host of tools to build their apps specifically to integrate with the Meta suite of applications. Facebook for business appeals to the “Home Business” user, fully 42% of all FB based businesses are in the suburbs, with another 25% based in rural areas.
A great deal has been written about the Facebook Outage of 2021. Many articles have discussed the fiscal impact at the parent company, Meta.
But the biggest impact – and the one that is getting the least amount of attention – is the affect those six hours had on the people who rely on the Facebook infrastructure to do business online:
More than 200 million small businesses actively using Facebook tools to conduct business lost sales revenue
Content Creators and Influencers lost access, lost revenue streams
Sponsored Posts, paid for but not deployed
Affiliate Links, paid for but not deployed
API access to tens of thousands of mobile applications
WhatsApp handles over eleven thousand international shipping orders a day
Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook are home to countless small businesses, whose owners depend on it for their income. The outage could have been catastrophic for any of them, not just because of the loss of traffic, but because they do not have access to their customers outside of the apps.
Now, they are faced with the knowledge that something as esoteric as a router mis-configuration update—entirely out of their control—can derail their livelihoods. They are learning that Facebook did not break, this error was an error of process.
As of this writing there is no plan in place from Meta to compensate its users for their losses.
Facebook SSO Was A Single Point Of Failure For Countless Users
For almost six hours none of the tens of thousands of Facebook single-sign-on logins to mobiles apps, games, web sites, shopping carts, news feeds, and other businesses simply did not work, with zero explanation why (at the time.)
Very few of the business owners that were seriously affected – to the point of considering potential bankruptcy by the Facebook outage – were ever in a boardroom, or managed high-end computing systems.
Most Importantly, What About Your Business?
What lessons can be learned from this, that you can use?
This event has made plain that process controls – including oversight and review that is built into the process – can not only save your company from potential disaster, but all those other elements that rely on your company.
A critically important lesson is that you yourself are responsible for ensuring that your business has not only a disaster recovery plan, but a business continuity plan in place. They are not the same thing.
Even if you do not use the Meta infrastructure to further your business goals, do you have a contingency plan in case you lose access to your customers, or your data, due to someone else’s error? What would you do if suddenly, you were locked out?