Facebook down: Private secrets briefly exposed

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook.com)
By Richi Jennings. December 17, 2010.

Facebook was down yesterday, after Mark Zuckerberg's minions realized that some secret-squirrel prototypes were visible. The great unwashed masses got to play with four new features before the rug was pulled. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ponder the implications of briefly glimpsed new toys.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention ST:TNG winter punnage (also, nice sweater, Jean-Luc)...

Bob Brown unleashes the Alpha Doggs:

The outage appears to have started around 4:15pm EST ... it’s likely related to ... updates that Facebook is making to the site. Facebook was restored (at least for us) by 4:45pm.


Conspiracy theorists also wondered whether Facebook being down and ... Julian Assange being released might be more than a coincidence. ... Assange finished as a runner up to Zuckerberg in Time’s Person of the Year award. ... Facebook last suffered a significant outage – 2.5 hours -- in September.  That outage was blamed on a misconfiguration of a database.

Lauren Indvik is easy for you to say:

Facebook just began rolling out several new features, including newly redesigned brand Pages ... a new Photos section dubbed “Memories” that allows users to view photos by year, and the ability to switch accounts ... without having to log out.


At around the time the new features began appearing ... the site went down. ... A source close to Facebook said the outage was related to an issue with customized tabs on Facebook Pages. ... The company ... apologized, explaining that “some internal prototypes were exposed ... and resulted in us disabling the site briefly.”

Sam Gustin explains "Facebook voluntarily shut itself down":

The immense online social network was forced to turn itself off in order to resolve the problem ... the company confirmed. ... To Facebook’s credit: they identified a problem, they took decisive — if drastic — action, and the issue appears to be resolved. ... Facebook has a pretty good track record when it comes to uptime.


They’re not pleased that they had to shut the website down for 30 minutes. ... But it comes with the territory when you have a culture of iterative innovation, they say. ... There’s probably an engineer at Facebook who is feeling pretty sheepish that he or she caused the world’s biggest online social network to shut itself down for half an hour.

Jackie Cohen agrees:

We really admire Facebook’s integrity ... plenty of technology companies make the mistake of lying ... after an outage. It’s so much better to admit to a mistake than fudge a hacking incident that never really happened.

But Chris Crum curses and castigates:

It's very unusual for Facebook to go offline like this, unlike say Twitter. No Fail Whales to look at though.


I wonder how much money Facebook is losing while this is going on.

Brad McCarty found four fascinating features:

Mimicking the style of the new personal page layout, the new [fan] pages have lost the tabs across the top, replaced by a simple interface. ... For page owners ... the added features should prove to be useful.


We’ve talked about the ... Facebook Questions ... service at length in the past. Today, it appears to have been tested. ... Click on the Questions link at the top of a page ... you can simply ask a question and get answers, or you can create a poll.


If you’ve ever dealt with managing Fan pages, you’ll know the hassle of having to flip between logins. ... Facebook will allow you, with the press of a button, to switch to a different login for each page.


Wouldn’t it be cool if you could go back, year by year, to see the things you’ve done? ... Facebook apparently thinks so too... a featured called Memories.

Jonathan Burg offers implications for marketers:

The most important takeaway from this brief window ... is that brand pages are going to become far more human-like in design, placing a far higher premium on conversational engagement on the wall.

But Myles Tanzer calls out a "stalker-esque feature":

On a profile's Memories page ... one can see that person's Facebook history ... to know everything about a person that Facebook could tell you. ... In each year, Facebook has collected the most popular statuses a user created that year, along with all photos tagged, and friends made in that year. All of these things were obviously there before, but it's never been this easy to see it all in one place.

And Finally...

ST:TNG winter punnage (also, nice sweater, Jean-Luc)

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon