Dec. 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM ET
When a site with more than 500 million users is unavailable, even for a half-hour, people notice.
Yesterday, Facebook shut itself down at about 4:15 p.m. ET after the premature release of a few new products, causing the usual stampede on Twitter of questions and complaints; and in offices and homes across the country (and world), a mild panic ensued.
As one of my Facebook friends here in Seattle wrote, "Mine was (down) for like 3 minutes. I was worried. :P"
Luckily, the outage didn't last long.
On Facebook's Facebook page, they issued an apology via a status update:
For a brief period of time, some internal prototypes were accidentally exposed to people externally. As a result, we disabled the site for a few minutes. It’s back up, and we apologize for the inconvenience.
Wired pushed for more explanation and went back and forth with Facebook, which insisted that the forced crash had nothing to do with "privacy or security."
Suffice it to say, they’re not pleased that they had to shut the website down for 30 minutes today. But it comes with the territory when you have a culture of iterative innovation, they say. Sometimes code gets pushed out before it’s ready.
Mashable had a little bit more information:
A source close to Facebook said the outage was related to an issue with customized tabs on Facebook Pages, which disappeared an hour before the site went down. In addition, Page owners were unable to determine which tab visitors landed on. When the site reappeared temporarily, customized tabs and landing pages were restored.
The new products that set the shutdown in motion yesterday were: