Is Facebook Down? Yes It Was For Some But Anonymous Not Responsible For Two-Hour Outage

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“Let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everyone else, we don’t crash EVER!” – ‘Mark Zuckerberg’, The Social Network. Not quite. Facebook has been offline or slow to load for some users around the world for over two hours. Reports started flooding in to Twitter at roughly 4:26pm PST on 5/31/2012 with many users quipping that “Facebook is down. Just like its stock price.”

Despite some who lost service regaining it temporarily, two hours in DownForEveryoneOrJustMe confirms the outage continued for portions of Facebook’s 900 million users, though others had no trouble logging on.

Update 10:05 am PST 6/1/2012: Facebook refused to cite a cause, but a spokesman tells me “I can confirm that yesterday’s issues were not the result of a denial-of-service attack”. We’ve also learned the outage was not due to an external cause, and sources familiar with the hacker group confirm that Anonymous was not responsible for the outage.

Similar to Facebook’s IPO, which was largely chronicled with tweets rather than the social network itself, Facebook users are turning to Twitter to vent their frustration with the downtime. The site so rarely encounters loading problems that the outage has come as quite a shock to some, whereas Twitter’s short but frequent hiccups have come to be expected. Today’s outage could be do to a coordinated hacking attempt, or just some Facebook-caused technical glitch

80 minutes after the outage began we heard reports that users in the United States, Brazil and Tunisia and likely other locations lost service, but the site seemed to be coming back to life for others, including me. 95 minutes after the site started to sputter it looks like most of those users who lost service have now regained it, though there are still reports of outages.

But then 2 hours into the disruption it looks like things weren’t fixed as some users in the US and around the world were still experiencing outages, including those who regained service around 6:00pm. By 8pm, 3.5 hours after the outages began, Facebook appeared to be stable.

Facebook pushes thousands of code changes a week, and this constant iteration is one of the site’s biggest strengths. It’s possible some code change yesterday was responsible for a the site’s performance issues.

Despite the jokes, Facebook was actually up $1.41 / 5 points today to close at $29.60, but is still 22% below its IPO price. We’ll have to see how the outage impacts its share price in the morning.

[Update 8am PST 6/1: The outage may have hurt Facebook’s share price, as it’s down $1.76 / 5.95% to $27.94 today. Facebook tells me “Earlier today, some users briefly experienced issues loading the site. The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

While Anonymous did not clearly claim responsibility, in a tweet it used the term “tango down”, a CIA expression indicating an important target had been killed. It’s previously used the term to gloat about successful Anonymous attacks. However, sources familiar with the group tell us Anonymous wasn’t the source of the outage, and a Facebook spokesman says “I can confirm that yesterday’s issues were not the result of a denial-of-service attack.”]

[Update 10:05am PST 6/1: We’ve now discovered that the outage was not caused by anything external.]

As Jesse Eisenberg fumed during his fictional portrayal of ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ in Aaron Sorkin’s dramatized history of Facebook, ‘The Social Network':

“If those servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed! Users are fickle, Friendster has proved that. Even a few people leaving would reverberate through the entire userbase. The users are interconnected, that is the whole point. College kids are online because their friends are online, and if one domino goes, the other dominos go, don’t you get that? I am not going back to the Caribbean Night at AEPi!”

Honestly, Facebook has been remarkably reliable over the last few years, even as its user base swells. But hopefully the site’s engineering team doesn’t mine sipping on a Caribbean piña colada while they sort things out.

[Image Credit: TwitterWhale]