Facebook’s Megafail Explained

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As an outage, it wasn’t as lengthy as Skype’s 2007 two-day disappearance. As a bug, it didn’t produce results as hilarious as the 2009 screwup that left Google identifying the entire Web as malware.  But the Facebook glitch that left “many” users without access to the site for two and a half hours must rank among the Web’s bigger meltdowns when it comes to the number of people it impacted. With more than five hundred million Facebook members out there, I wonder how many tried to get into the service and couldn’t?

After setting things straight, Facebook followed up with a blog post explaining what happened in lengthy, fairly technical detail. Basically, a bad configuration setting led to Facebook going haywire in a manner that brought the site to its knees–and even once the company’s techies had identified the original problem and fixed it, the aftershocks continued. (More on Techland: Two Minute Video: Quick and Easy Facebook Tricks)

It’s a sobering example of a small software goof having massive implications–and it reminds me more of some of AOL’s epic failures in the mid-1990s than it does more recent Web outages.

Bravo to the company for owning up to what happened in more detail than was absolutely necessary. Most days, Facebook seems to be among the Web’s more robust, predictable major destinations–my instinct, at least, is to expect it to work as advertised, and work reasonably quickly.  Which is more than I can say about some sites.

More on Techland:

This Facebook Phone Thing is as Straightforward as God

Can ‘Diaspora’ Kill Facebook? It Doesn’t Really Matter Either Way

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