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Twitter trolls Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp over recent outage

Twitter trolls Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp over recent outage

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Twitter did not miss a beat in trolling Facebook and its owned platforms Instagram and Whatsapp when they went dark in a global outage that lasted for about six hours. According to multiple media outlets including Wall Street Journal, Channel NewsAsia, and BBC, the platforms' services went down at around 12 am Singapore time today, and were beginning to get back up at 6 am. Twitter savoured the moment with a playful tweet, as netizens turned to its platform with nowhere else to go.

The tweet saw responses from Whatsapp and Instagram, as well as McDonald's Canada, which asked Twitter "Are you handling the fame?".

Admittedly, Dorsey was enjoying the fame. In addition to his whimsical post on Twitter's official account, he also used his personal account to promote Signal, Whatsapp's competitor chat platform. He even used wordplay in his tweet, saying "Signal is WhatsUp". Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also retweeted a fake thread about Facebook's domain being put up for sale, asking how much it costs.

According to CNA, ad measurement firm Standard Media Index reported that Facebook was losing about US$545,000 in ad revenue per hour in the US alone during the outage. Shares of Facebook,  also fell by 4.9% on Monday, amid a broader selloff in technology stocks, CNA reported. Media outlets also quoted Downdetector, which tracks outages, this was the largest failure it had ever seen, with 10.6 million problem reports across the globe. According to BBC, some people also reported problems using Oculus, Facebook's VR headset platform, and apps that require Facebook logins were affected, including Pokémon Go. A quick search by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE also revealed that Instagram had an outage that lasted for almost 12 hours from 10.40pm on 2 September 2021. 

When asked about the outage's impact on the brand campaigns scheduled to run during the period, Facebook's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that ads did not deliver during the outage, but are starting to resume although advertisers may see accelerated delivery as its services recover from the outage.

We know how frustrating a lack of access to our services and ads tools can be, and we are working to address what caused this system-wide outage. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this caused, and appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.

Facebook also encouraged advertisers to review their bids and budgets to ensure they accurately reflect their marketing goals. The tech giant also clarified in a blog post that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between its data centres caused issues that interrupted communications. The disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way its data centres communicate, bringing its services to a halt.

"The underlying cause of this outage also impacted many of the internal tools and systems we use in our day-to-day operations, complicating our attempts to quickly diagnose and resolve the problem," it added. Facebook also said that there is no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of the downtime. Facebook and its owned platforms' services are now back online and it is actively working to fully return them to regular operations.

Facebook previously had a disruption in 2019, which left its apps in the dark for over 14 hours, according to BBC. 

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Establishing an advertising continuity plan

The outage has "widespread implications" to the ad ecosystem, Forrester said in a blog post, since ads were not being served for over six hours across Facebook and Instagram, which command the lion's share of social media ad revenue. This not only affects Facebook’s revenue and stock price but also brands’ bottom lines, Forrester said.

Facebook witnessed a 47% year-on-year increase in Q2 ad revenue amounting to US$28 billion. According to Forrester's 2021 Consumer Technographics Benchmark data, Facebook's core app continues to rank as the top-used social media platform weekly among global audiences except for China, including 76% in Metro India, 66% in the US, and 64% in Europe Five countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain). According to Forrester, other apps within the Facebook ecosystem - Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp - also dominate globally over non-Facebook social media platforms.

Moving forward, Forrester laid out three ways brands can establish an advertising continuity plan since this is not the first and will most probably not be the last Facebook outage.

1. Diversify media spend within and outside of social media

Brands should reassess how much of their ad spend is concentrated in a single media platform and map out a go-forward diversification strategy that still engages their target audience while reducing concentration risk.

2. Prepare for the next outage

When the next outage occurs, brands should be in a position where they are able to quickly pivot to lessen the blow to their demand generation efforts. This involves creating "What If" scenarios with specific actions to take as risk triggers occur.

3. Adjust measurement tracking and optimisation

According to Forrester, marketers' ad performance benchmarks will need to account for this outage. For example, comparing Monday's performance against the previous week's won't be "trendable", Forrester said, adding that this is problematic because Facebook and Instagram measurement exists in a vacuum and brands cannot pull data out into independent cross-channel attribution models. Instead, it would be wise for marketers to pressure Facebook to quickly adjust for the outage to normalise brands' silo-ed Facebook ad performance dashboards.

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