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How Facebook going down can affect your business

Earlier this year, Facebook experienced an outage. Although it was only down for between 5 and 6 hours, the outage affected more than 3.5 billion people across the globe. We’ve been looking at the effect this had on businesses, and what your business can do to keep going when major outages occur. 

What happened with Facebook?

At the beginning of October, engineers at Facebook issued a command which inadvertently disabled access to Facebook’s data centres. Although Facebook says that there should have been something in place to stop accidental commands like this being issued, a bug in the system allowed it to go through. The effect was that access to Facebook’s data centres halted completely.

This had a huge effect on users, who weren’t able to access any of Facebook’s services. This included Instagram, Oculus and WhatsApp, as well as the Facebook app itself. For hours at the beginning of the outage, engineers at Facebook themselves weren’t able to access any of their own services, including their emails and internal tools; some employees could not even go into their buildings. This meant that the situation took a long time to resolve. 

Between the 5 and 6 hours that users were unable to access Facebook, they were also unable to access third party applications hosted by Facebook. For people with smart homes, it meant that they weren’t able to access their televisions and thermostats. For those who log into websites using Facebook, it meant they weren’t able to access their accounts. The impact was catastrophic for developing countries, many of which predominantly use Facebook to access the internet.

What impact did this have on businesses?

Facebook being down, even for only a few hours, had a big impact on businesses. Social media plays a huge part in how businesses operate, and around 200 million small businesses use Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, or other Facebook tools. 

Facebook for Business is completely free to use, unlike creating a website which often comes with ongoing costs like hosting and domain name, which has made it a very attractive way to get your business up and running. 

For small businesses, Facebook being down meant that their business was also down. Many did not have a way for customers to access their products and services outside of Facebook, which meant business literally stopped. For those who use WhatsApp to contact clients and customers, the ability to communicate stopped too. This meant a loss of income, and potential customers. 

Even for businesses who had established websites, and alternative methods of communication, this outage had an impact. Businesses using Facebook Workplace were no longer able to operate, and communicating internally using Facebook services was no longer possible.

What can businesses do during an outage?

The reason that this outage was so catastrophic for businesses is because so many use Facebook in some capacity. There’s very little that you can do as a user or business when outages happen; and they don’t just happen with Facebook. Google and Amazon have also experienced major outages in the past year. 

However, if you were affected by the Facebook outage, it’s time to review how your business operates, so that the next time a service goes down it doesn’t take your business down with it. Here are our top tips for making sure that you can keep going, even when Facebook doesn’t.

  • Review how your business operates

    Consider what applications you’re using to connect with customers, to advertise products and services. What happens when one of these applications goes down, and is it still possible for customers and clients to find you?

  • Think about the impact

    What impact would it have on you if your business couldn’t use these apps for a few hours? How would you communicate with clients? If you think that your business would struggle, it might be time to consider a disaster recovery plan.

  •  Don’t be dependent on Facebook

    This outage illustrates how important it is to run your business on more than a single platform. If you’re dependent on Facebook, think about having your own website as well. Transcendit can design, create and host a website for you.

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