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Facebook IPO volume = headaches for Nasdaq

The weight of Facebook's (FB) popularity seemed to bog down the Nasdaq in the initial minutes of the social network's debut trading.

CNBC reported that the exchange was investigating reports of a lag in trade execution notifications shortly after the stock made its delayed debut at around 11:30 a.m, ET. Traders took to Twitter to grouse about the bumpy start. The Wall Street Journal said suspected queue problems left traders unable to change or cancel premarket orders placed as early as 7:30 a.m., and some traders found themselves waiting up to an hour and a half after the 11:30 kickoff to get confirmation of their trades.

Sam Hamadeh, CEO of private company research firm PrivCo, said sheer volume swamped Nasdaq once trading began. According to CNBC, as much as 25 percent of Facebook shares were allocated for the retail market, an abnormally high figure.

"There were 310 million [shares traded] in 90 minutes," Hamadeh said. "It's just massive volume." By comparison, a typical Nasdaq heavy mover like Cisco only saw one-tenth the amount of trading volume in roughly the same time period, he said.

This glitch is reminiscent of the breakdown suffered by BATS Global Markets when the electronic exchange debuted its own stock back in March. The company described the incident as a "systems issue affecting trades in securities in symbol range A through BF." In addition to BATS own stock, trades of Apple were also affected. The exchange's technical difficulties were enough of a distraction that the company quickly announced it was withdrawing its IPO — a nearly-unprecedented response. 

Richard Repetto, principal of Sandler O'Neill, said Nasdaq is unlikely to suffer the same fallout BATS experienced. In an interview with CNBC, Repetto said the glitch wasn't of the same magnitude and didn't spill over into the trading of other stocks. 

A Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Facebook bears may have been taking out their skepticism on Zynga (ZNGA). Trading in shares in the online game developer, whose business is inextricably linked with that of Facebook, had to be halted twice after rapid, precipitous slides sent the stock price tumbling down near $7.