Facebook Goes Down For 20 Minutes, People Flip Out

by Seth Millstein

Around noon on Friday, the unthinkable happened: Facebook went offline for around 20 minutes. It quickly came back up, but it was out long enough for plenty of freaking out: A bunch of people literally called 911 over the outage, prompting one local police departments to clarify, via Twitter, that Facebook going offline is not in any way a police matter.

Some users were greeted with an error message, while others — such as myself — simply couldn’t load the site at all. CNBC reported that the outage most likely stemmed from a technical malfunction, not malicious tampering. It’s the second such outage in as many months; the site was down for around a half hour last June.

"Earlier this morning, some people had trouble accessing Facebook for a short time,” the company said in a statement. “We quickly investigated and have fully restored service for everyone. We're sorry for the inconvenience.”

In addition to highlighting our collective reliance on Facebook (as if that needed additional highlighting), the experience also underscored just how staggeringly profitable the social networking site is. Polly Mosendz over at the Wire ran the numbers, and concluded that Facebook, based on its second quarter revenue numbers, pulls in around $22,453 every minute. It was down for a total of 19 minutes today, so the company lost around $426,607 today. That’s nearly a half a million dollars in money down the drain, all because people couldn’t aimlessly scroll through status updates for 20 minutes.

Not surprisingly, Twitter lit up in light of the outage, with the the hashtag #facebookdown netting over 15,800 mentions.

Denny’s, never one to miss an opportunity, quickly attempted to leverage Facebook’s outage to their own advantage... did the official Twitter account of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps the most apropos commentary came courtesy of the reliably wonderful @PourMeCoffee account.

While losing half a million is chump change for a company like Facebook, it is a helpful illustration of why the company does everything in its power to keep people on the site as long as possible.