Thousands of websites across the Internet, both major and minor, came to a halt yesterday for 15 minutes to an hour. For that, they can thank Facebook. It turns out that the social network’s sharing option would redirect visitors to a Facebook error page, rendering access to a given website impossible until either a user logged out of the social network, or Facebook fixed the problem.
The ordeal started around 4 p.m. PST, according to The Daily Mail, and lasted until around 4:40 p.m., causing visitors to websites like CNN and Reddit to be referred to a Facebook error page reading “An error occurred. Please try again later.” This error page also popped up on other major networks from Pinterest and Hulu to The Huffington Post and The Washington Post.
Facebook issued a statement saying the issue was quickly resolved, and that Login with Facebook was working again.
Ted Samson, writing for infoworld, said the problem is much, much larger than a two sentence statement can properly address:
“Website owners should be concerned about this, knowing that their site traffic and associated revenue could be cut off at any moment due to a Facebook glitch that’s entirely beyond the site owners’ control to fix,” Samson writes. “Also, does this mean a sufficiently savvy hacker could devise a way to exploit Facebook Connect and redirect thousands of unsuspecting users to destinations other than Facebook, such as a malware page? Mark Zuckerberg and company will have to work overtime to convince site owners this was a one-time event.”
But this isn’t Facebook’s first major outage, nor is it the only major online network have this problem: in June, the Washington Post reports, a similar Facebook outage blocked access to many online retailers’ sites; Amazon Web Services, too, has also taken down websites when it went offline in late December 2012.