Facebook lost $545,000 in U.S. ad revenue per hour due to six-hour outage

Customers of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp have faced down time late on Monday afternoon Eastern time for nearly six-hour that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services.
Facebook customerFacebook apologized but did not immediately explain what caused the failure, the largest ever tracked by web monitoring group Downdetector.

The outage was the second blow to the social media giant in as many days after a whistleblower on Sunday accused the company of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation.

As the world flocked to competing apps such as Twitter and TikTok, shares of Facebook fell 4.9 percent, their biggest daily drop since last November, amid a broader selloff in technology stocks on Monday. Shares rose about half a percent in after-hours trade following resumption of service.

“To every small and large business, family, and individual who depends on us, I’m sorry,” Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer tweeted. Facebook added that it may take some time to get to 100 percent.

Several Facebook employees said that they believed that the outage was caused by an internal mistake in how internet traffic is routed to its systems. The failures of internal communication tools and other resources that depend on that same network in order to work compounded the error, the employees said.

Security experts said an inadvertent mistake or sabotage by an insider were both plausible.

“Facebook basically locked its keys in its car,” tweeted Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

Twitter on Monday reported higher-than-normal usage, which led to some issues in people accessing posts and direct messages.

Facebook, the world’s largest seller of online ads after Google, was losing about $545,000 in U.S. ad revenue per hour during the outage, according to estimates from ad measurement firm Standard Media Index.

Past downtime at internet companies has had little long-term affect on their revenue growth, however.

Facebook’s services, including consumer apps such as Instagram, workplace tools it sells to businesses and internal programs, went dark noon Eastern time (1600 GMT). Access started to return around 5:45 pm ET.

Soon after the outage started, Facebook acknowledged users were having trouble accessing its apps but did not provide any specifics about the nature of the problem or say how many users were affected.

The error message on Facebook’s webpage suggested an error in the Domain Name System (DNS), which allows web addresses to take users to their destinations. A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies took down multiple websites in July.