How Long Can Facebook Be Down? · 21 December 2019

I had a unique experience one morning. Facebook was down. Thankfully, chaos did not ensue. (Nor did the police get called. That I know of anyway.)

We are all used to different sites on the internet being down. Pretty much every site has its periodic maintenance and so forth. But I could not believe my eyes when I saw that Facebook was down for periodic maintenance. (I should have taken a screenshot of the page.) Oh, I could believe Facebook could be down for periodic maintenance. Just not on Thanksgiving. Which led me to believe that there was something wrong in the world of social media.

Now before I start a worldwide panic, Facebook was not down very long. I am sure that it was down less than a half hour. At max. Probably less. Much less. But it did get me wondering. What would happen to the world if Facebook (and by extension, all social media) was down for more than just periodic maintenance someday? Or maybe if it all just disappeared?

My first thought was that there would be pandemonium.

“Oh what will I do without my feeds from my besties?”
“Can I survive without seeing my family online?”
“My phone! My phone is broken! Oh the humanity!”
“Facebook! Oh Facebook! My kingdom for Facebook!”

Yes. By all accounts, if Facebook went away, we would all be lost without any form of communication with each other. It would indeed be chaos.

Then again, maybe we could actually talk with each other. Interact without devices. Walk side by side and actually speak to one another instead of texting to somebody on the other side of the world. (Actually, I always imagine that people walking side by side and texting are actually texting each other. It makes me giggle.)

But back to the thought at hand.

If Facebook (and by extension, all social media) went down for a significant length of time, I wonder how much ad revenue would be lost. I wonder how much screen time would go down. I wonder if global warming would slow because not as many wired and unwired devices would be used.

I am sure that we would not have pandemonium in the streets if Facebook went down for a significant amount of time, but when it was down I actually wondered what their practical limit was for being down. What sort of reliability they had to have in order to be successful. And I figured that a few minutes a year spread out over the course of said year might be about it. (I talked to a friend who used to work there who told me that Facebook actually tolerates zero downtime. Period. Heads roll otherwise. Or at least things happen to make sure that the particular mistake does not happen again.) I suppose having a no tolerance policy to downtime makes sense. After all, people do not tolerate being without their social media for long. They find something else. And quickly.

Which is probably why experiencing Facebook being down was such a unique experience. It just does not happen. For obvious reasons. After all, Facebook (and by extension, all social media) does not want to go down lest we have pandemonium in the streets.

© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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