It might well have been the end of the world for some people, as Facebook (News - Alert) was offline and inaccessible for about 20 minutes yesterday. While Facebook is currently back up and running, it was a bit of a technical glitch that briefly killed one of the most popular websites on the face of the Earth.
Facebook cited a glitch in its DNS system, following a change they'd made that resulted in some users being unable to login to their Facebook accounts. The DNS system converts a domain name into an IP address that targets a specific computer--in this case, the computers that Facebook essentially lives on--and when the DNS system had a bit of a glitch in it, not everyone who tried to could, therefore, reach that host computer.
While Facebook didn't say just how long the glitch lasted, several reports put the total at around 20 minutes, which isn't near as bad as it might have been, though for those who tried to get in during those 20 minutes--especially if they needed to do so for work--things would have been unpleasant enough. But the problem was detected and the site is fully operational again, no doubt a relief to many.
Image via Shutterstock
Glitches like these do happen, and in the case of Facebook, they're often mercifully brief. But considering the range and reach of Facebook, this was probably a bigger black eye for them than a similar experience would be for other, smaller sites. There's little that can be done in the way of preparation for this sort of thing, and mistakes happen no matter what size the operation is.
Additionally, Facebook is somewhat limited in its available recourse options as they're mostly a free service. There are some sections that can be paid to access, and perhaps some Facebook Credits may be in order for those who already have accounts, but aside from that there's not much more Facebook can do than issue an apology to those affected and carry on, safe in the knowledge that such a glitch isn't likely to happen until the next time they need to change something major.
Still, the loss of those users for even a short time is a tough blow to Facebook--who knows how much they lost in advertising revenue?--but one from which they'll in all likelihood quickly recover.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman