14 Hours - The biggest Facebook blackout in 10 years. - Dispatch Weekly

March 14, 2019 - Reading time: 5 minutes

As the dust begins to settle, we are able to look back on the last 24 hours which has seen the Largest Facebook blackout of the last 10 years.

What happened?

At around 16:00 GMT on the 13th of March, Facebook users began reporting that they were experiencing issues being able to access their accounts. The issue was not only limited to Facebook however with issues also affecting Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp.

Many users took to Twitter to voice their annoyance with the hashtags #facebookdown and #twitterdown used over 150,000 times yesterday. Serious disruption continued for at least 14 hours.

Why did it happen?

The exact cause of the blackout is still unknown as Facebook have not given a full statement however they have said: “We’re focused on working to resolve the issue as soon as possible but can confirm that the issue is not related to a DDoS attack.”

A DDoS attack is a type of cyber-attack where attackers overwhelm a targeted service or network by using thousands of hacked computers to bombard the website in question. Given that Facebook has over 2.3 billion monthly users, an attack of this scale would be unprecedented.

Who was affected?

As can be seen from the following graph by Downdetector, the issues started at around 4 pm with 72% of users reporting they could not log in or a complete blackout. In our own poll that we conducted on Twitter during the carnage, we found that 91% of respondents had experienced disruption with their services.

Reports suggest that the concentration of issues were in the UK and USA, however, users all over the world experienced issues.

It is not only Facebook users that have lost out. CCN estimate that the company may lose out on as much as $90 million in Advertising revenue over the period, and this does not even account for the refunds that they will pay advertisers or the damage it has done to their reputation.

More bad news for Facebook

This latest fiasco comes at a bad time for Facebook. These recent events saw Facebook’s share price fall 2.8% yesterday. This will be disappointing for the company following the rally it experienced on Monday following the announcement that Mark Zuckerberg envisions a safer and more connected network between Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook.

It has also been reported this week that Facebook is under a criminal investigation by the New York Grand Jury for data sharing practices. Historically Facebook has had 150 “special partners” who have been given added access to millions of users data.

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman told the Times. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

The companies that had supposedly entered such partnerships included Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Sony and Amazon giving them access to more user data than regular companies. This has led to various subpoenas being handed out as the investigation is ramped up.

However you look at it, this has not been a good week for Facebook. Whilst Twitter will be hoping that this disruption to Facebook continues.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.