A new analysis by Chartbeat has found that traffic to news sites went up when Facebook went down this week. The outage took place on October 4th, and saw Facebook, along with its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram, was down for over five hours. Interestingly, this outage was enough to push people to go read news elsewhere, Twitter being a popular alternative. The social media platform apparently witnessed traffic go up by as much as 72 percent.
When the outage was at its peak, which happened around 3 p.m. ET, net traffic across a number of web pages went up 38 percent as compared to last week.
At Odds with Routers
Facebook has said that the outage wasn’t because of a hack, but had rather been due to a self-inflicted problem. Apparently, something had gone wrong with an update in the service’s routers that are used to coordinate network traffic through systems.
Things became worse when the outage disrupted Facebook’s internal systems and tools. In fact, even the company’s own employees reported difficulties in physically reaching the place housing the routers.
Cybersecurity expert Barrett Lyon has said that looking at the matter technically, Facebook will eventually have to “review what they do and how they’ve designed things.” According to Marketwatch data, the problem ended up costing the firm “tens of millions of dollars.”
Beneficial to Competitors
It seems like whenever Facebook goes down, the consequence turns out to be beneficial for its competitors. Back in 2018, when the service had faced a similar, but shorter (about 45-minutes long) outage, Chartbeat had been there to study how the same had resulted in an increased traffic across other media outlets.
But that was very small as compared to the outage in 2019, when a change in Facebook’s server configuration which was similar to the one from yesterday, had resulted in the platform being down for nearly a whole 24 hours.
The Border Gateway Protocol
The issue this time around had apparently been between Facebook and the Border Gateway Protocol, which happens to be a vital tool associated with the Internet. The protocol provides information about route traffic, and if a firm can’t use it, it appears that their domains don’t exist at all.
This comes even as Facebook finds itself in the middle of one of the most critical legal issues it has ever faced, following whistleblower allegations but a former employee, who appeared to testify before Congress this week.