Facebook experiences worst outage in four years yesterday

by Shannon Harris on September 24, 2010

Facebook, the popular social networking site with more than 500 million users, suffered an outage for two and a half hours yesterday that prevented anyone from accessing their account.

The outage occurred early Thursday afternoon and was reportedly fix by 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Though the outage has been resolved, it revealed a possible problem for Facebook as this was the second time this week the social networking site had gone down.

On September 22, the company addressed what it described as "API latency issues" on its public developers blog. According to the post, the outage on that day related to "a third-party networking provider."

After the problem had been resolved, Facebook's software engineering director Robert Johnson published a lengthy post on the company's public blog (different from the developer's one) and described the situation as "the worst outage we've had in over four years."

Johnson also revealed that the problem wasn't related to the earlier outage in the week and that it instead involved "an unfortunate handling of an error condition."

"An automated system for verifying configuration values ended up causing much more damage than it fixed," Johnson wrote.

The timing of the outage may be unfortunate for Facebook, given that a fictionalized movie centering on the company's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will be premiered at the 48th New York Film Festival tonight.

The film is based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich, and the script was reportedly finished before the book was even published, according to the Associated Press. Controversy is surrounding the film due to the somewhat negative portrayal of Zuckerberg by actor Jesse Eisenberg.

Facebook was launched in February 2004 as an online social network for college students at certain schools. It was later made available to the general public and is currently the largest social network in the world with more than 500 million users. 

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