Pagoda Blog

Six-Hour Facebook Outage is a Wake-Up Call for Small Businesses

October 21, 2021

Facebook was entirely offline for six hours on October 4, 2021, causing many business owners to panic as their primary outlet for marketing and communicating with customers completely disappeared. The outage affected all of Facebook's apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Billions of users globally were effectively shut out of what for many is their primary form of communication with friends, family, and in the case of businesses, customers. The outage not only impacted users but essentially ground most work at Facebook to a halt as employees lost access to internal forms of communication, documents, and even building access. CTO Mike Schroepfer said the issue was “affecting our networking backbone that connects all our data centers together.”


This was an outage on an epically grand scale, requiring Facebook engineers to finally travel to one of its main data centers in California to restore service. Facebook has since reported that there is “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.According to Facebook, the outage seems to have been due to issues with the network’s system that manages their global backbone network capacity. During routine maintenance on that system, all connections to the backbone network were unintentionally disconnected. The slow recovery time was in part due to Facebook’s security measures that work to prevent unauthorized access. As Facebook engineer Santosh Janardhan put it in this informative post,  “a tradeoff like this is worth it — greatly increased day-to-day security vs. a slower recovery from a hopefully rare event like this.”  


Takeaways for Business Owners

As business owners, what can we learn from Facebook’s recent outage and how can we prepare ourselves for the potential of another outage in the future? An important lesson here is that even giants like Facebook can experience a complete outage to their services. Fortunately, their extensive work simulating smaller-scale outages in “storm drills” and investing heavily in cybersecurity prevented compromising their users’ data and allowed them to come successfully back online on the first try. We can all take this lesson to heart and invest in a managed service provider that offers comprehensive services including team-wide cybersecurity training and a multi-layered security strategy


The other takeaway is that there is a risk in relying too heavily on any one external platform for marketing or communication with customers. As of January, 2021, Facebook was the top platform used for marketing worldwide with Instagram a close second. In 2020, Facebook’s ad revenue amounted to over 84.2 billion U.S. dollars with approximately 10 million advertisers utilizing the platform to promote their brand/market their offerings. (Instagram’s ad revenue was 13.86 billion in 2020 with more than 200 million business accounts.)  


Millions of businesses across the globe use Facebook and Facebook apps for marketing campaigns, product releases, and as their business’s primary web presence. This outage caused many of them to lose a substantial amount of money due to lost sales and other lost opportunities that could only happen through Facebook. This underscores why it's so important that you diversify your marketing efforts across platforms that aren’t all operated by the same parent company. It’s also critical to invest in your own website and email list as a way to reach customers and maintain more control over your communications and operations. (We also highly recommend a CRM system to help track customer engagements and to nurture, and maintain relationships.)  


How did the Facebook outage impact your business? Did the outage lead you to reevaluate how you use their platform(s) for marketing? We’d love to hear from you and help prepare your business for the inevitable bumps in the road through proactive maintenance and world-class IT support. Get in touch for a free consultation today. 

Feature photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash

Related posts: 

How to Secure Your Social Media Accounts

Your Data and Facebook: Protecting Your Business in the Social Media Age

How to Safeguard Your Twitter Account


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